Kate Middleton Hoax DJs May Face Criminal Charges

Kate Middleton's Australian pranksters could face charges for broadcasting a private conversation without permission

The Australian radio station that broadcast a prank phone call to Kate Middleton's London hospital could face criminal charges, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

Getty ImagesThe hoax last week was criticized around the world after two DJs from 2DayFM posed as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles and tricked a nurse, who apparently committed suicide last Friday, into giving them confidential information about Middleton. They can now face charges for airing a private conversation without the permission of the participants.

If convicted, 2DayFM or its parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, could face prison sentences. The DJs, who issued tearful apologies in on-air interviews this week, have said that executives above them chose to broadcast the recordings.

Also read: Kate Middleton Hoax DJs: 'I'm Gutted, Shattered, Heartbroken'

The New South Wales state Surveillance Devices Act prohibits the broadcast of private conversations without participants' permission, with violations punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $58,000 U.S. dollars, according to the Associated Press.

The Commercial Radio Code of Practice has a similar ban, but legal experts quoted by the Associated Press say that even if Australia's media watchdog found violations, the most extreme punishment, which would revoke the station's license, is rarely handed down.

The nurse's family and the hospital where she worked told reporters last week that they believe 2DayFM radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian's call was a factor her suicide. The station has since canceled their show.