Royal prank DJ sues Southern Cross Austereo
Mel Grieg claims her employer failed to provide a safe workplace after her involvement in last year's royal prank call.PT0M29S http://www.dailylife.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ppgq 620 349 July 10, 2013
Royal hoax DJ Mel Greig could get a "six- or seven-figure payout" by accusing 2Day FM's parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, of "failing to provide a safe workplace".
That is the view of Nowicki Carbone personal injury lawyers managing partner Anthony Carbone, who said the station appeared to have been "playing with fire" by encouraging questionable stunts – and that Greig has a "very strong case" against her employer.
"It could come to six figures, or even seven figures": Legal expert says Mel Greig has a very strong case against Southern Cross Austereo. Photo: Southern Cross Austereo
Greig has made a general protections application with Fair Work Australia. Sources say she wants to terminate her employment with Austereo, despite the company offering her several jobs over the past six months.
She has been off air since British nurse Jacintha Saldanha killed herself in December.
British MP Keith Vaz, who’s been speaking on behalf of Ms Saldanha’s family, says Greig’s decision to take on her employer ‘‘is brave’’ but no surprise.
‘‘Ultimately the radio station made the decision to broadcast the hoax call and must bear responsibility for the tragic death of Jacintha,’’ Mr Vaz said in a statement.
Greig and co-host Michael Christian duped Saldanha into believing they were the Queen and Prince Charles. Saldanha transferred their call to another nurse, who divulged private information about Kate Middleton.
Scotland Yard has officially asked Australian police to consider laying charges over the hoax phone call.
The hoax call was made to the King Edward VII Hospital on 4 December 2012.
A spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police in London told Fairfax that on Tuesday this week they sent their file on the incident to the Australian Federal Police and New South Wales police.
"The MPS has requested that consideration is given as to whether any offences were committed under Australian legislation," the spokeswoman said.
Mr Carbone said Greig was clever in making her claim as a general protections application. "There's no limit on damages with general protections," he said. "It's under-utilised in Australia because lawyers don't understand it."
He said Greig would probably need to prove she had suffered a diagnosable psychological injury as a result of the prank call incident – but not that Saldanha's suicide was forseeable.
The amount Greig is claiming could comprise medical expenses, loss of future income and damages.
"Mel might argue that her earnings have been affected by what's happened, so she could claim the gap in earnings for the forseeable future," Mr Carbone said. "And the judge could turn around and say, 'I'm also going to give you an amount for pain and suffering'.
"All up, it could come to six figures or even seven figures."
Mr Carbone said Austereo's rap sheet – which includes tricking listeners into believing a popular presenter had died, a stunt police claim encouraged dangerous driving and the notorious lie detector scandal – could bolster Greig's claim. "It goes to the heart of what kind of workplace Mel was working in," he said. "Did Austereo condone and encourage the pranks? Did they promote bad conduct?
"This doesn't seem to have been a one-off thing; it seems to have been ongoing."
Whether 2Day FM broke the law by recording and broadcasting the prank call without permission is also relevant, he said. "They're fostering a culture which is questionable at best. At worst, it appears they're encouraging what could be illegal behaviour."
Austereo and Greig have refused to comment.
People seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 131114.