Australia's high court has ruled that Sydney radio station 2Day FM was not allowed to broadcast a prank call targeting the British royal family. A nurse at the receiving end of the call killed herself three days later.
The court upheld a ruling by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that the station had breached surveillance laws by broadcasting the call without the consent of the other party.
The ruling also overturned a previous ruling by the Federal Court which argued that the ACMA did not have the authority to decide whether a crime had been committed. The station now faces a fine or will see its license revoked or suspended.
In December 2012, two DJs working for the Sydney radio station, Mel Greig and co-host Michael Christian had posed as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on the phone to King Edward VII's Hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness during her first pregnancy. They were able to obtain details of her condition, which were broadcast on the radio.
Nurse Jacintha Saldanha was one of those caring for the Duchess of Cambridge at the time and had taken and transferred the prank call. She was #link:16437054:found hanged three days later. She left a note blaming the two DJs for her death.
Both DJs apologized, and the station's owner, Southern Cross Austereo, later donated Australian $500,000 (US$450,000; 352,000 euros) to the nurse's family.
A London inquest into Saldanha's death held last September found that the nurse had blamed herself for the embarrassing release of intimate details of the duchess's condition.
The ACMA welcomed the ruling, but Southern Cross Austereo insisted that allowing ACMA to judge the criminal guilt of broadcasters was a "serious defect in Australian broadcasting law," according to the AFP news agency.
ng/kms (AFP, dpa)