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British prosecutors decline to file charges in radio show prank suicide case

From Richard Allen Greene, CNN
February 1, 2013 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Jacintha Saldanha apparently committed suicide after routing through a call from the show's DJs to the royal ward.
Jacintha Saldanha apparently committed suicide after routing through a call from the show's DJs to the royal ward.
  • Two Australian radio DJs targeted Prince William's pregnant wife in a prank
  • The nurse who put through the prank call later committed suicide
  • A British prosecutor says there is no evidence to support a manslaughter charge
  • It's not in public interest to seek charges for what was meant as a "harmless prank" he says

(CNN) -- British prosecutors declined Friday to file charges against anyone involved with a prank carried out by an Australian radio show that targeted Prince William's pregnant wife and was followed by a nurse's suicide.

The decision by prosecutors came just days after it was announced that the radio show, "The Hot30 Countdown," at the center of the prank had been taken off the air for good after the network expressed deep regret for the nurse's apparent suicide after she routed through a call from the show's DJs to the royal ward.

READ: Australian radio show at heart of royal prank taken off air permanently

"Having carefully reviewed the evidence currently available, we have concluded that there is no evidence to support a charge of manslaughter," Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of special crime at the Crown Prosecution Service, said in an e-mailed statement.

He also said that although there is some evidence to warrant further investigation into potential communications violations, it was not in the public interest to pursue charges.

READ: Hospital slams prank call radio station over nurse's death

"However misguided, the telephone call was intended as a harmless prank," McHaffie said.

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"The consequences in this case were very sad. We send our sincere condolences to Jacintha Saldanha's family."

In early December, the two DJs impersonated Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles and called King Edward VII's Hospital to gain information about the condition of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

The pair subsequently played the prank on air.

The nurse who transferred the call through to the ward, Saldanha, was later found dead after apparently committing suicide.

An uproar followed.

READ: Australian prank call radio station boss calls nurse's death 'truly tragic'

The two DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, were taken off the air. And the network, Southern Cross Austereo, suspended all prank calls, pulled advertising and ordered a comprehensive review of relevant policies and process.

Greig and Christian apologized in interviews with the Australian TV shows "A Current Affair" and "Today Tonight."

READ: Social media entwined in radio prank, nurse death

A St. James's Palace spokesman said the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were saddened to learn of Saldanha's death.

Another palace spokesman told CNN at the time that "at no point did the palace complain to the hospital about the incident. On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."

READ: Radio personalities apologize for prank call to duchess's hospital

Part of complete coverage on
Prank call tragedy
December 12, 2012 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
As the family and media search for answers, a picture emerges of a generous, caring woman who was caught up in a media maelstrom.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
Two DJs responsible for the prank call speak of their sorrow that a nurse caught up in the call apparently killed herself.
December 8, 2012 -- Updated 2156 GMT (0556 HKT)
Two DJs are under fire after the death of a nurse who received a hoax phone call. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
In this whole tragic affair Jacintha Saldanha was truly powerless, Ross Stevenson writes, explaining why airing the call was wrong.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1042 GMT (1842 HKT)
The apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha has provoked outrage, sadness and demands for retribution in all corners of the media.
December 10, 2012 -- Updated 1535 GMT (2335 HKT)
An Australian radio network defends its prank DJs, saying the media around the world has carried out a "witch hunt" against them.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)
The hospital where a nurse committed suicide after being duped by a hoax condemned the station responsible in a strongly worded letter.
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1044 GMT (1844 HKT)
The chairman of the Australian radio network has called the apparent suicide of one of the nurses duped by the prank "truly tragic."
December 11, 2012 -- Updated 1043 GMT (1843 HKT)
Many social media users were quick to point fingers at the two radio hosts who made the call and then promoted it on Facebook.
December 7, 2012 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Two Australian radio DJs made a prank call to the hospital where the duchess is staying, claiming to be Queen Elizabeth II and her son, Prince Charles.