British press condemns 'thoughtless' Australian radio hoax

British press condemns 'thoughtless' Australian radio hoax
London:  The British press on Sunday condemned the "thoughtless" Australian radio hoax that apparently prompted the suicide of a nurse working at the hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife Catherine.

The face of Jacintha Saldanha appeared on the front page of almost every major Sunday newspaper, with Britain still in shock following the nurse's death on Friday.

Saldanha, 46, had fallen victim to a prank call from two presenters posing as Queen Elizabeth II and William's father Prince Charles, passing them through to a colleague who then divulged details of Kate's severe morning sickness.

The Sunday Times described the hoax call, by Mel Greig and Michael Christian of Sydney's 2Day FM station, as a "thoughtless stunt", adding that hospitals had a right to expect that callers are genuine.

"Nurse Saldanha's death was sad and avoidable," it said in an editorial. "It should mean that from now on hospitals are deemed to be out of bounds when it comes to this kind of prank call."

"Humiliated", ran the headline of the Sunday Telegraph, which paid tribute to Saldanha as "a nurse and mother dedicated to helping others".

Telegraph columnist Jenny McCartney condemned the DJs for trying to "obtain private medical information by trickery" and argued that the worst invasions of William and Kate's privacy in recent months has been by foreign media.

"This most recent incident, one must hope, might come as an international wake-up call to back off," she wrote.

But Guardian columnist Yvonne Roberts called for an end to the barrage of anger directed at Greig and Christian, who have been accused by some of having "blood on their hands".

"The vindictiveness of much of the reaction is perhaps a small measure of just how alienated from our better selves so many of us have become," she wrote.

Comedian Dom Joly -- a self-confessed prankster -- also called for critics to leave the DJs alone.

"How would I feel if somebody to whom I had done something on one of my television programmes had killed themselves as a direct result of it? It would be the end of everything," he wrote in the Independent on Sunday.

He added that strict rules insisting that victims of his own pranks give consent for the material to used on television have "often prevented us from using footage that was comedy gold".

Greig and Christian "must already be suffering quite staggering levels of guilt that I don't think will ever leave them," he wrote. "That is punishment enough."

Story First Published: December 09, 2012 09:13 IST

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