UK

Australian Radio DJ Mel Greig 'Deserved To Die' Over Jacintha Saldanha Hoax Call

14/10/2014 20:18 BST | Updated 14/10/2014 20:59 BST
Steve Parsons/PA Wire
Embargoed to 0001 Tuesday October 7 File photo dated 12/09/14 of Australian radio DJ Mel Greig, who was one of the Australian DJs behind a hoax call which resulted in the death of a nurse at a hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge is to give a cautionary tale to radio industry figures about on-air pranks.

An Australian radio DJ said she "deserved to die" for making a hoax call that resulted in the death of a nurse at a hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge. Mel Greig, who apologised for her role in the incident at the inquest of Jacintha Saldanha last month, spoke of her horror and disgust at the part she played in the prank.

Speaking at Radio Festival 2014 in Salford she said: "I was disgusted with myself, that I'd played a part in this poor woman's suicide, it as very hard to deal with." Ms Greig added: "It was horrific. And at the time I felt that I deserved it, people were saying you deserve to die and I honestly thought I do deserve to die.

"I had failed as a human being - someone has taken their own life because of something I was involved in. And I believed that I deserved all those tweets, it went on for months and because I was in lockdown all I did was read the comments. So I believed it. I believed everyone in the UK hated me and wanted me dead. I believed everyone in Australia wanted me dead. There was no a lot of support at that time."

Ms Greig, who posed as the Queen while the Duchess was being treated for morning sickness at the King Edward VII Hospital in London, also said she was "vilified the most" in the media backlash. When asked whether she was treated differently because she was a woman, Greig replied: "I have only just started to really assess this now. I don't want to be insensitive for the Saldanha family, this was a tragic event for them. I don't want it to be about me, I don't want to be the victim.

"But I was vilified the most. I don't know why the media fixated on me. I don't know if it's because I'm a female but it did feel that the trolling and the press were focusing more on me."

Presenter Daisy McAndrew, who interviewed Ms Greig at the festival, said: "When I look at the cuttings, it seems to me that there is an element of that, he tends to be called things like youthfully exuberant or boyish. It reminded me of a sportsman or businessman who get caught and are put on the naughty step, but if a woman does the same thing very often the media have a different attitude and she is going to be vilified and be a Lady Macbeth."

The radio host described how her family feared she would harm herself in the hours after she heard of the tragedy. "My boyfriend was stood on the balcony because he didn't know what I would do," she said. "I was never to be left by myself. But I didn't sit there thinking that I wanted to die, I just didn't really feel a lot of anything. It was a constant feeling of numbness."

She talked about going to hospital for major surgery for endometriosis, a fertility condition, and said: "I was convinced that that was my karma. That I took a mother, and now I don't deserve to be a mother." Ms Greig also urged other DJs to learn from the tragedy and called for more measures to be put in place to stop people from pranking organisations such as emergency services and hospitals.

"I'm hoping that even if one person walks out of this room and it changes their mindset next time they're going to do something that might affect someone, then my job is done, I have achieved what I wanted to achieve here," Ms Greig said. She added: "The radio industry must question does the person know, is that person comfortable with the situation in hand before going ahead.

"A more stringent process must be put in place. We need support and we need to look out for each other." She added: "If you don't feel comfortable doing something, you need to talk, you need to speak up."

Indian-born Mrs Saldanha answered the phone call in December 2012 and believing it to be genuine, put the call through to the nurse in charge of Kate and it was then played on air by Ms Greig and her fellow shock-jock Michael Christian. A two-day inquest at the High Court heard Mrs Saldanha held herself responsible for the mistake, despite the private hospital's management supporting her and the other nurse as victims of a cruel joke.

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