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Don't be too harsh on Australian DJs - Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood

By This is Gloucestershire  |  Posted: December 11, 2012

Jacintha Saldanha

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Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood has called for calm after two Australian DJs were criticised for a telephone prank linked to the death of a nurse in London.

Jacintha Saldanha apparently took her own life after she was duped by a hoax call made by DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian to the King Edward VII's Hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge.

The hospital worker transferred the presenters, believing they were the Queen and the Prince of Wales, to a colleague who reportedly described the condition of Kate during her treatment for severe pregnancy sickness last Tuesday.

Ms Saldanha, 46, from Bristol, was found dead three days later in a block of nurses’ flats close to the hospital.

Her death is not being treated as suspicious and a post mortem examination into her death is due to be held today.

The incident has led to widespread criticism of the DJs but writing in today's Gloucestershire Echo Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood has called for calm.

He writes:

The tragic death of Jacintha Saldanha unleashed a tide of abuse and criticism against Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian who hoaxed her into believing they were Royals themselves.

The reaction before she died was more mixed. Some regarded the call as a bit of a laugh.

The BBC ran clips of it on their own website.

At worst it was judged really poor taste to trick a hospital or to risk what the local nursing union called ‘serious professional consequences’ for the staff involved.

But for the chairman of the private hospital to write after the event to the Australians, describing ‘premeditated and ill-considered actions’ leading to an outcome ‘tragic beyond words’, seems to shift too much blame onto them.

Greig and Christian have said, perfectly believably, that they never expected to be put through. Even then the call does not immediately sound like something that would cause someone’s death.

Apparently nurse Saldanha was not even being disciplined by the hospital.

Her death really is tragic.

Her family must be distraught.

But hysterical hostility towards two young presenters, who could not really have foreseen that death, will not bring her back.

It could even make the situation worse.

Highlights of the week:

Monday: Met members of Charlton Kings Youth Forum in Parliament, along with mentor Rob Reid.

They only represent clubs and youth groups now but judging by their questions, one or two might be after jobs in parliament before long.

Wednesday: The Chancellor delivered his wintry Autumn Statement.

A deepening recession in the Eurozone, our biggest trading partner, and faltering confidence in other worldwide markets clearly making the long hard task of rebuilding and rebalancing the UK economy even longer and harder.

There were backstage tussles beforehand between LibDems and Tories.

Gone are Conservative plans to take housing benefit from the under 25s or penalise anyone with more than two kids.

But there was no LibDem ‘mansion tax’ either and I’ll find the 1 per cent rise in some benefits – a cut in real terms – hard to swallow politically.

How much harder for those struggling to survive on them.

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  • Ms_Superstar  |  December 11 2012, 8:58PM

    The elephant in the room is that the radio station management failed five times to obtain permission to use this recording, then went ahead and used it anyway. What is more unbelievable is that the BBC also broadcast it. Now, either they negotiated for the rights to use it from 2day FM's management, in which case they would have been aware that permission had not been obtained, or they took it and retransmitted it without asking, which is plagiarism. Still, given the BBC's tarnished reputation of late, I suppose anything is possible. But the Aussie DJs, who were just doing their job (and let's not forget that this kind of thing is a regular part of Australian culture - we shouldn't judge foreigners by our own pc standards), are just pawns in this matter. Not saying they were entirely innocent, but blame should be focussed higher up the food chain.

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  • Lord_Gaga_  |  December 11 2012, 5:26PM

    Well i'm suprised, i didn't think anyone would have agreed with me. questions need answering, why was she working in London, when she was from Bristol for one

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  • TimMessanger  |  December 11 2012, 4:22PM

    Mr Horwood false impersonation to obtain medical records in the UK is a criminal offence! Should we take this as permission from Mr Horwood to impersonate him to get his medical records and financial records?

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  • MissyMadDog  |  December 11 2012, 12:34PM

    My first reaction on hearing about the apparent suicide of the nurse was one of sheer anger towards the DJs, I wanted someone to blame but I think that stems from my dads suicide. Now after a period of calm and rational thinking, there's no way anyone could have predicted this tragic event. Nobody knows any details yet and we may never know why this lady took her own life, but it's quite possible she had other issues and stresses in her life and this prank call just tipped her over the edge. That said, for some reason I'm struggling to have any sympathy with the DJs, I appreciate how awful they feel, but it will be nothing compared to what Ms Saldanha's family are feeling and who have a very long hard road ahead of them trying to come to terms with this.

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  • Takeaway22  |  December 11 2012, 12:20PM

    This prank resulted in a terrible outcome and it is now easy to be wise after the event. What happens now? With a prank, there is always a victim. Are we now to ban pranks of any sort? In my opinion, this was "just another one of their weekly prank calls" that went terribly wrong but should we have a kneejerk reaction?

  • IsitJimKerr  |  December 11 2012, 11:35AM

    Alfredo_.........quoting Mark Twain at a time like this does you no credit. I'm just giving my view, as are you, but you are adding vitriol. "Man's inhumanity to man is not only perpetrated by the vitriolic actions of those who are bad. It is also perpetrated by the vitiating inaction of those who are good." MLK

  • CfromGlos  |  December 11 2012, 11:09AM

    @Geraint2010 how do you know that when told about it William and Kate found it amusing? Sorry, but please be quiet Mr Horwood, we will make our own minds up thankyou very much!!!

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  • Scorpio2010  |  December 11 2012, 10:58AM

    @gallopingbear - "I think we can all learn from this to be more aware of mental illness and how we behave towards people in every day life." ABSOLUTELY!

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  • geraint2010  |  December 11 2012, 10:45AM

    If anyone is complicit in this poor woman's demise it is the British media who blew the original incident up out of all proportion. After hearing an abridged version of the prank call on the radio my curiosity got the better of me and I immediately listened to the uncensored version online and could honestly not see what the fuss was about. A childish prank? Certainly, but in no way comparable with that vile incident involving Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross some time ago. Jacintha merely put a call through to the appropriate ward and was entirely blameless. As for the ward nurse who picked up that call in the early hours of the morning towards the end of a long shift, perhaps she had her suspicions, but ask yourself how would YOU would react if confronted with a call that might just be from the Queen? Contrary to press reports this nurse did NOT reveal any "sensitive and personal information" of any consequence - seek out the uncensored tape online yourself if you don't believe me. And apparently, when told about the hoax call, William and Kate found it rather amusing - but that was before the tragic news broke about poor Jacintha.

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  • Hackingtackle  |  December 11 2012, 10:38AM

    This whole situation is ridiculous. I'm assuming the nurse in question already had a lot of other problems and this was most likely the final straw. I feel it reflects badly on her employers that she was involved in patient care in such a fragile emotional state. Seriously traumatic events go on in hospitals every day, why should we be led to believe that people have become so acopic?

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