'They're on a witch-hunt': Australian media accuses UK press of playing 'blame game' following Royal hoax call nurse's death
Australian newspapers have claimed that the UK press is on a 'witch-hunt' following the death of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who fell victim to a prank call by two radio presenters last weekRadio company Austereo has described the media backlash to Mrs Saldanha's death as 'ferocious'Many Australian Sunday papers called for presenters Michael Christian and Mel Greig to be absolved of any blame
00:24 GMT, 10 December 2012
The Australian press has accused the UK media of playing a 'blame game' in the wake of nurse Jacintha Saldanha's death following a prank call made by two radio DJS to the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated last week.
Mrs Saldanha, 46, a mother of two, was found dead on Friday in staff accommodation at the hospital where Kate, 30, had been treated for acute morning sickness.
She was one of two nurses duped into believing that two 2Day FM presenters putting on accents were the Queen and Prince Phillip attempting to get an update on Kate's condition.
'Witch-hunt': The Australian press has accused the UK media of playing a 'blame game' following nurse Jacintha Saldanha's death. The nurse was duped by a hoax call from radio presenters Michael Christian, left, and Mel Greig, right
Headlines: Nurse Jacintha Saldanha's death made the front pages of most of Australia's main media players today
Her death made the front page
of most of Australia's biggest papers, with much of the focus falling
on Michael Christian and Mel Greig, the two young DJs at the eye of the
The pair are said to be receiving counselling following Mrs Saldanha's death.
And many Australian media commentators were today defending the DJs at the centre of the controversial prank and accused the British media and members of the public who took to Twitter and Facebook to lambast the pair of 'witch hunt'.
The Sydney Morning Herald quoted a spokeswoman for Austereo as describing the backlash in the British media as 'ferocious'.
She said. 'Australia seems to be much more balanced. In the UK it's like they're on a witch-hunt.
'It's intense and what's incredible to me is it's so much easier for the British media to have us as the target (than the hospital).'
Top story: Many Australian newspapers have focused on the prank's devastating outcome both for the nurse's family and the two DJs at the centre of the storm
Finger pointing: Many papers talked of a 'blame game' being played by UK media following the radio prank
Andrew Bolt wrote in the Herald Sun that Grieg and Christian could potentially face the same fate as Jacintha Saldanha as they seek 'intensive counselling' in the wake of the nurse's death.
He said: 'To be guilty of bad taste is one thing but to be held guilty of manslaughter is a monstrously unfair other, and makes the finger pointers seem hypocrites.
'Want to push more people over the edge Keep on screaming “blood on their hands”.'
Siobhan Duck of the same newspaper called for people not to point the finger of blame at Greig and Christian.
An opinion piece written in a similar tone in the Australian Sunday Telegraph said: 'It is profoundly unfair to load responsibility for Ms Saldanha's death upon the shoulders of 2DayFM's young presenters.
'They could not have possibly known anything of the torment that clearly placed the mother of two at risk of self-harm.'
The paper blamed the Leveson Inquiry and a heightened awareness of ethics among the British media as the reason behind the so-called 'blame game.'
Duped: The King Edward VII hospital in central London where Kate was being treated for extreme morning sickness last week. Nurses at the hospital were duped into giving out details of her condition in a hoax call by two Australian radio presenters
Tributes: Flowers left outside the Nurse quarters to the King Edward VII hospital in London where Jacintha Saldanha died after recieving a prank phonecall from an Australian radio station
An article stated that while accusations had been aimed at the hospital and its staff initially for falling for the prank, the 'tide turned like a tsunami with the guilt now aimed at the Sydney radio pair Mel Greig and Michael Christian' following Mrs Saldanha's death.
The Telegraph also pointed out that the reasons for Mrs Saldanha's apparent suicide are unclear despite her part in the radio prank.
An article read: 'Mainstream media websites published thousands of comments directly blaming Greig and Christian for the death.
'Both responses are wildly out of proportion to the event. It is seductive, but too simple, to blame Ms Saldanha's death on a radio hoax.
'Suicide is a complex act and can rarely be entirely blamed on a lone event, however distressing.'
The paper charted the careers of the pair, in particular Michael Christian, who it described as a 'rising star' of Australian radio, whose life they said 'will never be the same again'.
Tragic: An undated family photograph of Jacintha Saldanha, (right) the Indian-origin nurse who died after being hoaxed by an Australian radio show trying to reach Prince William's wife in London
According to the Telegraph, the pair had only just started working together when the prank call was made.
Jane Hansen of the Sunday Mail was particularly sympathetic to the young pair and cited a similar journalistic experience of her own which had a profound effect on her life and career.
She told how a story she ran on a television repairman charging customers for work not being carried out had killed himself following her piece.
She said: 'I'm not going to sit in judgement, nor do I want to sound like an apologist. But I will say that suicide leaves everyone gutted and searching around for answers.
'There is no way such a silly prank should lead to such a tragic outcome, but the radio duo will blame themselves – and there will be plenty of haters ready to fan such thoughts.'
Telegraph's front page headline 'Shattered' described how a 'juvenile'
prank had destroyed lives on both sides of the world.
The story told how Greig and Christian are in hiding and both receiving counselling following the incident.
The same paper also featured the reaction of Kate Middleton's second cousin Lilian Lowers who moved to the remote New South Wales town of Gilgandra – ironically Michael Christian's home town – from Luton, Bedfordshire, in 1982 with her husband Ron.
She told the paper that her sympathies lay with Mrs Saldanha's family.
She said: 'It's absolutely shocking. There was no need to play that prank just for laughs. What a terrible thing to happen.
'I couldn't believe it.'
The Australian described the hoax
call's consequences as a timely reminder of the 'impact media in all
its forms can have on an individual.'
One of Australia's biggest broadsheet dailies The Sydney Morning
Herald told how radio station 2Day FM were in crisis talks after
advertisers distanced themselves from the station and King Edward VII
Hospital's chairman wrote a letter to station bosses.
The SMH reported that the DJ's have expressed a desire to speak to the press and publicly state their remorse.
The prank seems to have divided opinion in Australia.
More than 83,000 of the SMH's readers had taken part in a poll asking whether their opinion of the hoax call had changed in light of Mrs Saldanha's death.
Pranksters: Mel Greig, left, and Michael Christian, right, have been suspended from their 2DayFM show
Just 27 per cent of those polled said that the prank was a joke and that its 'consequences were not intended.' 61 per cent said that they always found the joke 'in bad taste'.
One reader, named only as Daveywavey commented on the newspaper's website: 'What was ever supposed to be funny about trying to contact a sick, pregnant woman being treated in hospital in her first (and most dangerous) trimester when the status of the foetus was unknown
'Even by Australian larrikin standards, I'm not seeing the humour.'
But many Australian's agreed with claims that there is a 'witch-hunt' against the two radio presenters at the heart of the scandal.
Melbourne, Australia, resident Paul Gallacher tweeted: 'How was Jacintha Saldanha disciplined by the hospital one wonders The prank was a long shot. Hindsight is very convenient.'
Meanwhile, Matthew Grundy, Tweeting from Victoria, Australia, said: 'British media rather hypocritical over 2dayfm scandal considering their phone tapping scandal. Did they hound the nurses involved'
A fellow Australian Twitter user known only as Sam added: 'No-one could possibly have foreseen the tragic aftermath of the 2dayfm prank call, and therefore the blame game should end.'