Trained over pranks ... Michael Christian and Mel Greig. Photo: AFP
THE DJs linked to the death of the British nurse Jacintha Saldanha had been trained ''not to air any prank calls without permission'' and are now ''playing dumb'', a source from besieged Sydney radio station 2Day FM says.
The claim appears to contradict earlier statements by DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig that they were unaware of the approval process for prank calls.
Mrs Saldanha, a nurse at the Duchess of Cambridge's hospital who killed herself after falling victim to the hoax, wrote an apparent suicide note to her family, it has emerged.
The 46-year-old left a note for her husband, Ben Barboza, 49, and children, Junal, 17, and Lisha, 14, but they still believe there are ''unexplained circumstances'' and are demanding answers from the King Edward VII's Hospital. They were in the dark about the hoax call. They had not watched the news or seen anything about it.
Mrs Saldanha, from Bristol, was declared dead on Friday after being found unconscious at a nurses' accommodation block where she lived when she was working in London.
The 2Day FM source said all presenters, producers and content managers at the radio network were compelled to undergo ''decency and standards'' training every six months, in compliance with a ruling by the industry regulator.
The sessions, run by 2Day FM's in-house lawyer Tania Petsinis, include the specific instruction ''not to air prank calls unless they get the subject's permission … if there is doubt about a prank call, there is a clear chain of command in management that we have to escalate the call through''.
The station's training sessions also advised on ''how to not cause distress to callers … there is a lot of stuff about taste and decency''.
The sessions were introduced after the lie detector scandal of 2009, in which a 14-year-old girl revealed on air that she had been raped.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority found the station had breached standards of decency and ordered it to implement a staff training program.
It is understood about 150 2Day FM staff attend the programs every six months, including Christian and Greig, who tricked Mrs Saldanha into thinking they were Prince Charles and the Queen.
If employees are hired between the twice-yearly sessions, they must have one-on-one training before they start.
''Even when we get people to do summer fill-in shows, they're not allowed on air until they've done the course,'' the source said. ''And that training is very clear: you can't put any prank calls to air unless you get the subject's consent. It doesn't matter where [the subject] is from; this is a blanket rule.''
Rhys Holleran, the chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM, told 3AW's Neil Mitchell the station tried ''at least five times'' to contact the hospital at which Mrs Saldanha worked before airing the prank call.
He has not explained why his employees then broadcast the call despite failing to obtain consent.
King Edward VII's Hospital has denied being contacted by 2Day FM and the radio station has not released any phone records to prove that the calls were made.
Fairfax Media has repeatedly sought comment from Southern Cross Austereo spokeswoman Sandy Kaye and several senior managers. All have failed to respond.
with the Telegraph, London