They say they expected a hang-up and a few laughs. Instead, the Australian DJs behind a hoax phone call to the London hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was being treated were deeply apologetic Monday as they described how their joke ended up going too far.
The phone call – in which they impersonated Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles – went through, and their station broadcast and even trumpeted the confidential information received. Whatever pride there had been over the hoax was obliterated by worldwide public outrage after Friday’s death of Jacintha Saldanha, the first nurse they talked to.
“There’s not a minute that goes by that we don’t think about her family and what they must be going through,” 2DayFM radio host Mel Greig told Australia’s “A Current Affair,” her voice shaking. “And the thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching.”
Police have not disclosed the cause of Saldanha’s death, but many have assumed it was related to the stress from the call. An autopsy is being performed today.
Greig and co-host Michael Christian spoke publicly about the prank for the first time in the televised interview.
Ex-puppeteer faces more allegations
Another man on Monday sued the former Elmo puppeteer who resigned amid sex abuse allegations, claiming the voice actor befriended him in Miami and promised to be a father figure before flying the teen to New York to have sex with him.
The alleged victim is now the fourth to accuse Kevin Clash, who resigned from “Sesame Street” last month after 28 years. The three legal actions filed so far have been civil cases seeking financial compensation.
Attorney Jeff Herman said he encouraged his client, referred to only as S.M., to report the incident to authorities, but it’s unclear if the now-33-year-old alleged victim has done so.
Sexual abuse allegations against Clash triggered a media frenzy last month. He quickly denied the first claim, which was recanted the next day. But Clash then resigned after a 24-year-old college student, Cecil Singleton, sued him for $5 million, saying the actor engaged in sexual behavior with him when he was 15.
Clash’s attorney Michael Berger said in a statement that “the lawsuit is without merit, and we will vigorously defend the case and Mr. Clash’s reputation.”
The birthday bunch
Actress Rita Moreno is 81. Actress Donna Mills (“Knots Landing”) is 70. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is 69. Singer Brenda Lee is 68. Singer Jermaine Jackson is 58. Singer-bassist Justin Currie (Del Amitri) is 48. Actor Gary Dourdan (“C.S.I.”) is 46. Actress-comedian Mo’Nique is 45. Rapper-actor Mos Def is 39. Actor Rider Strong (“Boy Meets World”) is 33. Actress Hailee Steinfeld (“True Grit”) is 16.