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India-born nurse's death: Watchdog finds radio station guilty

Jacintha Saldanha

London, Sep 19 (IANS) A report by Australia’s media watchdog on the death of India-born nurse Jacintha Saldanha here, following a prank call from two radio jockeys, has found the radio station guilty of acting illegally, a leading British daily reported Thursday.

The findings of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) interim report was revealed to a Sydney court hearing the case, The Telegraph reported.

The report found the radio station, 2Day FM, of acting illegally by recording and broadcasting a conversation without the consent of the hospital where Saldanha worked.

Saldanha, 46, a mother of two, was found unconscious in December last year in the quarters of the King Edward VII Hospital in central London where she was working as a senior nurse.

The two radio jockeys, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, had called the hospital Dec 4 posing as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles.

Saldanha received the call and, not understanding their prank, transferred it to a colleague who then provided them information about Prince William’s then pregnant wife Kate Middleton. Three days later, Saldanha was found hanging.

The report said the radio station, located in the Australian state of New South Wales, breached the state’s Surveillance Devices Act and that its licence could be suspended or revoked.

The two hosts apologised after the incident and insisted it was only a intended to be a harmless prank.

Greig did not report to work and he has sued the radio station for failing to provide a safe workplace.

Christian returned a national accolade “top jock” by the broadcaster earlier this year.

She has also offered to appear at the British inquest into Indian descent nurse’s death in London.

The station’s owner, Southern Cross Media Group, claimed the media watchdog has no right to determine whether the station committed a crime.

Barrister for the radio station Bruce McClintock was quoted by The Telegraph as saying that the watchdog acted like a “policeman, prosecution, prison warden, judge, jury and parole officer”.

“The courts are the place, and the only place, where determination of criminal guilt can be made,” he said.

He added that such findings would do “enormous damage” to the station.

ACMA’s barrister Neil Williams, however, said the watchdog was entitled to carry out statutory duty a and doing so and not interfering into the “judicial function”.

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