Royal prank DJ lauded one of the 'best in the land' by employer

SYDNEY Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:29pm IST

2day FM radio hosts Mel Greig (L) and Michael Christian, pose in Sydney in this picture obtained by Reuters on December 8, 2012. REUTERS/Southern Cross Austereo/Handout

2day FM radio hosts Mel Greig (L) and Michael Christian, pose in Sydney in this picture obtained by Reuters on December 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Southern Cross Austereo/Handout

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - One of the Australian radio presenters who staged a royal prank call that was linked to the suicide of a London nurse has been awarded the title of "Top Jock" by his employer, radio network Southern Cross Austereo.

Michael Christian was the joint winner in one of the categories of an internal competition that recognizes the company's "best in the land". He was awarded a trip to Los Angeles as part of his prize.

Christian and his colleague Mel Greig made a prank call to the London hospital treating Prince William's wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, in December 2012.

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha put the call through to a colleague who, despite the DJs' unconvincing accents, disclosed details of the duchess's medical condition.

Saldanha was found hanged in her apartment days after the call.

"To be seen to be rewarding people so soon after such an event, I think, is just in bad taste," National Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told a Melbourne radio station.

Christian was in his first week at the Sydney station 2DayFM when the prank was staged.

"Regardless of all that's happened in the past few months, I'm still at the top of my game," Christian said in a statement. "It felt good to see my name at the top of the final leader board."

Following a public backlash, Southern Cross promised to donate advertising revenue to a fund for Saldanha's family with a minimum contribution of A$500,000 ($485,500).

(Editing by Lincoln Feast and Ron Popeski)

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