The Australian radio hosts who made a prank call to a London hospital treating Prince William's wife Kate on Monday said they were heartbroken as they recalled hearing the news that a nurse had been found dead.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian from Sydney station 2Day FM have been in hiding and undergoing counselling since their hoax sparked global outrage following the apparent suicide of Jacintha Saldanha.In interviews on Australian television, the pair broke their silence following Saldanha's death last week in London, as 2Day FM's owner said it was cancelling their show and stopping all prank calls by its broadcasters.
An emotional Greig said she was devastated on being told the Indian-born nurse had died.
"Unfortunately I remember that moment very well because I haven't stopped thinking about it since it happened," she told Australia's Seven Network in a teaser segment ahead of the broadcast of the full interview later Monday.
"And I remember my first question was, was she a mother?" In a separate interview with the Nine Network, Greig added: "It came into my head that I just wanted to reach out to them (the family), give them a big hug and say sorry. I hope they're OK, I really do."
The call, with Greig and Christian posing as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, was taken by mother-of-two Saldanha, 46, at London's King Edward VII Hospital.
With no receptionist on duty in the early morning, she put them through to a colleague who divulged details of the pregnant Kate's recovery from severe morning sickness.
Saldanha was subsequently found dead, although British police have refused to confirm whether it was suicide pending an inquest.
Christian said he too was devastated.
"Shattered, gutted, heartbroken and obviously you know... our deepest sympathies are with the family and the friends," he told Nine. The death sparked an outpouring of fury against the radio station and the presenters, although the broadcaster on Monday said no-one could have foreseen the tragic consequences of what the hospital says was an "appalling" stunt.
Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2Day FM, said the station called the hospital five times to discuss what it had recorded before going to air.
He said he was satisfied that the appropriate checks were conducted before the pre-recorded segment was broadcast.