|Aussie radio exec skewered over insulting remarks on London call that led to nurse’s suicide
The head of a radio station at the center of a tragic prank call by Australians Michael Christian and Mel Grieg targeting Prince William's then pregnant wife Catherine defended himself after describing such incidents as “shit happens.’’
(Pictured, a relative pays tribute at a prayer service before the burial of nurse Jacintha Saldanha in her hometown Shirva, near Mangalore in southwest India, last year).
The call to a London hospital last year by two DJs from Sydney broadcaster 2Day FM pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and William's father Prince Charles led to a nurse's suicide after the story went global. Mel and Michael both boasted about the call later.
India-born Jacintha Saldanha put them through to the ward where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness. Saldanha hanged herself several days later, AFP reports.
At a meeting Tuesday of shareholders of Southern Cross Media, which owns the radio station, chairman Max Moore-Wilton appeared to play down the incident, AFP reports.
“Those incidents were very unfortunate, no doubt about that,'' he said when asked if there was a cultural problem at the station responsible for the prank and other similar incidents, adding that procedures had been put in place to ensure they did not happen again.
“But in the immortal words of someone whose identity I cannot recall, shit happens.''
British lawmaker Keith Vaz, who campaigned on the Saldanha family's behalf, condemned Moore-Wilton's language as an insult to her memory and demanded he apologize. But the chairman refused to back down.
“Mr Vaz should look at the transcript of my comments and take it in context rather than listening to the truncated and sensationalist reports of the Australian media,'' he told Australian Associated Press.
“What the media commentary focused on was one sentence that I made and presumably that's what Mr Vaz is focusing on.''
Moore-Wilton added that the phrase “shit happens'' was “in the eye of the beholder. It's entirely Australian.’’
“I don't know whether it's British but it's certainly... been used by many Australians to express a point of view,'' he said.
“I'm not here to be censored for my use of a word which is common in everyday parlance in Australia. If you don't like it, or the media don't like it, well that's fine.''
Southern Cross Media later attempted to cool the controversy, issuing a statement to clarify the comments.
“Mr Moore-Wilton would like to emphasize that his words should not be read as his or the company's lack of concern or sympathies towards those who have been involved in the royal prank call issue,'' it said.