Southern Cross Austereo’s 2Day FM Sydney is now under investigation by police over the ”royal hoax” that led to the suicide of a UK nurse. The investigation could lead to criminal charges if it is found to have broken the law by recording and broadcasting the prank phone call without permission. The inquiry was started at the behest of Scotland Yard, which asked Australian authorities this month to consider ”whether any offences were committed under Australian legislation,” reported The Sydney Herald.
2Day FM had attempted to block a different investigation last month by filing a NSW Federal Court application arguing that Australia’s media watchdog Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) has no power to continue a key part of its ongoing probe into the December 2012 incident.
Jacintha Saldanha, 46, took her own life three days after 2Day FM’s Mel Greig and Michael Christian duped her into passing them on to a ward nurse who gave out details about the Duchess of Cambridge’s stay at London’s King Edward VII hospital.
The prank call was recorded and broadcast. The ACMA is investigating whether 2Day FM breached its license conditions by illegally using a surveillance device to record the call. 2Day FM argues that ACMA has no power to decide whether use of the surveillance device constitutes an offense, pointing out that police have not investigated the case.
2Day FM is seeking a Federal Court ruling, with hearings due to begin in Sydney on 7/17, preventing the ACMA from finding that it breached its license.
In February, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service said there was no evidence to support a manslaughter charge. It also said it would ”not be in the public interest” to pursue lesser charges relating to data protection and malicious communications.
This week it was revealed Greig had taken legal action against 2Day FM for ”failing to provide a safe workplace”. Legal experts told Fairfax Media she has a strong case and could received ”a six- or seven-figure payout”.
Greig has been off air since the tragedy. While still employed by Southern Cross Austereo, it is believed she wants to terminate her contract.