Australian radio DJ Mel Greig has requested to give evidence at the inquest into the death of Jacintha Saldanha, saying she can testify as to the British nurse’s state of mind at the time of the infamous 2012 royal prank call.
Greig turned up at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Thursday, even though she was not listed as a witness.
She walked into courtroom 10 dressed in black and looking emotional, after tweeting: “I made a commitment to the Saldanha family that I would answer any questions they have, on or off the stand, I’m here to uphold that promise.”
After proceedings got under way before coroner Fiona Wilcox, the DJ’s lawyer, Gerwyn Samuel, explained the Australian had come to assist in any way she could.
Mr Samuel said Greig could give evidence about who made at least one of four calls radio station 2DayFM made in the 35 minutes after the initial hoax call in early December 2012 seeking consent to broadcast the prank.
Her producer made at least one of the calls and her lawyer said she was later told what was said, the court heard.
“(Further) Mel Greig did speak to Jacintha Saldanha on the night (Australian time) during the prank call, she can give evidence as to what she thought her (Ms Saldanha’s) demeanour was like when she was speaking to her during that call,” Mr Samuel said on Thursday.
The Saldanha family’s lawyer, John Cooper QC, encouraged the court “in the strongest possible terms” to hear from Greig.
Mr Cooper also supported an application by the King Edward VII hospital for Southern Cross Media Group chief executive Rhys Holleran to give evidence via video link from Australia on Friday.
Hospital lawyer Fiona Barton QC said four calls were made after the initial hoax on December 4, 2012, but they could only have been answered by Ms Saldanha and they may have added to her stress.
The calls were all less than one minute long and in written statements, Mr Holleran suggests the first two were answered by a female and the third by a male. Who answered the fourth was unknown.
The hospital argues it’s unsure if the calls were even answered, but if Ms Saldanha did take them, they would have compounded her anxiety “and therefore had an impact on her death some time later”.
“If she did answer those calls – and there were four of them – then it could only add to the stress she was under when she realised this was a prank call,” Ms Barton said.
The family also supports Mr Holleran being called to give evidence concerning the follow-up consent calls.
But Dr Wilcox suggested the issue of consent was not relevant to her inquiry and Maya Sikand, for Southern Cross, acknowledged the network “did not get any consent”.
Southern Cross further argued who actually made the calls was not relevant.
Ms Saldanha, 46, was found dead in her staff accommodation on December 7, 2012, just days after answering a prank call from Greig and co-host Michael Christian.
The radio hosts pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles.
Ms Saldanha transferred them to a ward nurse who was duped into giving out details of Kate’s condition.
The inquest continues.