Saturday, December 8, 2012

Actions have consequences

The prank pulled by an Australian radio station during the week has had dreadful consequences; AAP reports, via Newstalk ZB:

A London nurse at the centre of a royal phone prank by Australian radio presenters is dead.
Scotland Yard says police aren't treating the death of Jacintha Saldanha as suspicious.
She was unable to be revived after being found unconscious at an address near London's exclusive King Edward VII Hospital at 9.35am local time on Friday.
A statement from the hospital says Jacintha worked at the King Edward VII Hospital for more than four years.
She was described as an excellent nurse, well respected and popular with all of her colleagues.
Earlier in the week Sydney's 2Day FM presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian called the hospital impersonating the Queen and Prince Charles as they sought details of a patient, Prince William's pregnant wife, Kate.
The prank made global headlines as the actions of the 2Day FM duo were widely criticised.
Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse, who earlier in the week described the hoax call by the 2Day FM jocks as "foolish", confirmed Ms Saldanha's death on Friday afternoon.
"It is with deep sadness that I can confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha," Mr Lofthouse told reporters.
"Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII Hospital for more than four years. She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues.
"We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her throughout this very difficult time."
Ms Saldanha was on duty at the hospital earlier this week when Greig and Christian telephoned, impersonating the Queen and Prince Charles as they sought details of a patient, Prince William's pregnant wife, Catherine.
The DJs are thought to have been put through by Ms Saldanha to the ward nurse looking after the Duchess of Cambridge.
The pair used toffy voices as they were patched through to the ward nurse, who relayed confidential details of Catherine's condition.
News of Ms Saldanha's death was acknowledged by the royal family.
"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," said a statement issued by St James's Palace.
"Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."
Mr Lofthouse described Ms Saldanha, married and with two children, as a "first-class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients".
"Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much-loved and valued colleague. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with her family and her friends," he said.
A royal aide confirmed to Sky News that no complaint was lodged with the hospital following the prank.
The incident prompted the hospital to review its telephone protocol, while it considered legal action against the radio network. Ms Saldanha was not disciplined over the incident.
Greig and Christian have since apologised for the "lighthearted" prank, but have been bombarded with online abuse for their stunt.

This is a terrible development in what seemed at the time a reasonably innocuous stunt. But it is further illustration that every action has a consequence, and we often have no idea what those consequences might be. 

UPDATE: One of our Facebook friends sums this sad turn of events rather nicely:



Grant M. McKenna said...

Her surname is Portuguese, although there are some South Africans with the name [and presumably elsewhere in the Portuguese diaspora, such as Brazil]. If Brazilian or South African she may have felt that her work permit was at risk.

Missy said...

This is a tragic result of what was an unfunny so-called prank.

What these DJs did was inexcusable, at no point did they stop the 'prank' when private information was being offered, and despite 'apologising' they continued to brag about it and promote the prank, according to reports right up to a couple of hours after the news of the Nurse's death was reported.

The DJ's are only now being stood down, after such a gross invasion of privacy initially they should have been stood down days ago, maybe now they can reflect on their thoughtless and stupid behaviour, and realise that there will always be consequences of their actions. Newton's third law is at work here 'for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction'.

Interestingly, one of the unethical behaviours of the media that came up in the Leveson Inquiry was the practice of making phone calls pretending to be family members to gain information for a story, in my opinion there is no difference between this behaviour and so-called prank calls to gain information.