Duchess of Cambridge hoax call nurse death a 'tragedy'

Jacintha Saldanha Jacintha Saldanha was the duty nurse who answered the prank call.

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The death of a nurse who took a hoax call about the Duchess of Cambridge was a "tragedy", the Australian radio station which broadcast it has said.

Rhys Holleran, chief executive of the company that owns Sydney radio station 2Day FM, said DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian were "completely shattered" by the death of Jacintha Saldanha, 46.

The pair posed as the Queen and Prince Charles in a call on Tuesday morning.

Scotland Yard have now released an image of Mrs Saldanha.

It is thought she killed herself. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said a post-mortem examination would not take place until next week.

The station has suspended adverts, and the show has been taken off-air.

Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne, Mr Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo, said he did not think any laws had been broken.

This was in contrast to a statement on Tuesday by hospital chief executive John Lofthouse, who said he had "received advice that what the Australian broadcasters did may well have broken the law".

The two DJs telephoned the hospital early on Tuesday morning, and recorded the call. It was then assessed by the station's lawyers before being broadcast on 2Day FM.

Mrs Saldanha, a duty nurse, answered the phone because it was 05:30 GMT and there was no receptionist on duty.

She put the pair through to the duchess's nurse, who unwittingly revealed details of the pregnant duchess's medical condition.

The duchess had been admitted on Monday for acute morning sickness, and was discharged on Thursday.

Mr Holleran told journalists that Mel Greig and Michael Christian's show would not be returning until further notice.

Rhys Holleran: "This is a tragic event that could not have been reasonably foreseen"

He said: "This is a tragic event that could not have been reasonably foreseen and we are deeply saddened by it."

But he added: "I think that prank calls as a craft in radio had been going on for decades. They are done worldwide and no-one could reasonably have foreseen what happened."

The network later suspended all advertising on 2Day FM until Monday.

BBC correspondent Duncan Kennedy said the decision was meant as a sign of respect, although with several advertisers, including Australia's largest supermarket chain, already pulling their adverts, it was more like damage limitation and to avoid further bad publicity.

Before the death, the country's media watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, had received complaints about the broadcast. Chairman Chris Chapman said: "These events are a tragedy for all involved and I pass on my heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased nurse in London.

"The ACMA does not propose to make any comments at this stage, but will be engaging with the licensee, Today FM Sydney, around the facts and issues surrounding the prank call."

In a statement, Mrs Saldanha's family said they were "deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha". They have requested privacy from the media.

On Friday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said in a statement they were also "deeply saddened" by the death of Mrs Saldanha, a duty nurse who was married with two children.

And King Edward VII hospital paid tribute to "a first-class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients".

She had also worked at North Bristol NHS Trust for a number of years dating back to 2003. A trust spokesman said: "We are shocked and saddened by this news and offer our sincere condolences."

'Excellent nurse'
Mel Greig and Michael Christian Mel Greig and Michael Christian had said they were "very sorry if we've caused any issues"

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said he understood Mrs Saldanha - who was staying in hospital accommodation close to hospital - was the person who answered the call from the DJs and was not the nurse who discussed the duchess's medical condition.

The BBC understands Mrs Saldanha had not been suspended or disciplined by the hospital.

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell said it had been suggested to him that she had felt "very lonely and confused" as a result of what had happened.

The St James's Palace statement said the duke and duchess "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".

A palace spokesman later added that "at no point did the palace complain to the hospital about the incident".

"On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."

Scotland Yard said officers were called at 09:35 GMT on Friday after reports of a woman found unconscious at an address in Weymouth Street, central London. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious.


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  • Comment number 1016.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1015.

    I felt physically ill when I heard this. I wish we we are a culture that recognises dignity and service, instead of stupidly and celebrity obsession. We're all guilty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1014.

    Proof that the butterfly effect actually exists? These two presenters in Australia certainly started a chain reaction resulting in a tragedy in the UK. For what ever reason Mrs Saldanha was the victim. The presenters and radio station may not have broken the law but their moral compass is completely off. Was the hospitals reaction even handed? I'm not so sure considering their clients.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1013.

    The prank may have been distasteful to British sensibilities, but it was not the fault of the presenters that the information was given. The clinical staff had a duty of patient confidentiality, a fundamental nursing principal for all patients, rich or poor. Having made the mistake, Mrs Saldanha should have been protected and counselled from the inevitable aggressive public attention.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1012.

    To be a royal is good, right? No one knows what happend behind this story...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1011.

    This could have been one of most prestigious events in Mrs Saldanha's career for her pride. Sadly the DJ's turned the event into mockery of an innocent nurse as part of a prank.

    The DJ's are morally responsible for the prank, the lawyers legally and the station financially. They should ensure that the children are more than supported throughout there life finacially and in any other way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1010.

    The hoaxers & radio station deserve some of the blame. Perhaps the nurse would have done this even if the broadcast had not garnered any significant attention, due to intense guilt & embarrassment. But surely the media response has to be considered - there was a ludicrous degree of indignation, along the lines of "How dare a stupid nurse undermine the confidentiality of our wonderful princess?!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 1009.

    With respect, its people like you that have a total lack of respect.......not important.....tell her children!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1008.

    Nursing is a very stressfull profession and at 5:30 in the morning the nurse would have been very tired and vunerable. These pair of prats will have to live the rest of their lives knowing they contributed to the death of another person

  • rate this

    Comment number 1007.

    Being such a high profile hospital will royal connections, I would of thought that was protocol in place for taking msgs/inquiries etc. Surely too, Royal security would of had a plan of action. Poor nurse, I hope that she was treated 'correctly' post-incident, by the hospital!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1006.

    980.M Taylor

    I presume you work for the Aussies. It should be those Newarks who made the call that should be held responsible. Isnt it a crime to cause the death of someone, who impersonated a member of the Royal Family to illegally obtain imformation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1005.

    Legally, the eggshell skull principle will come into play. The test for liability isn't if the degree of harm caused is predictable, it is if some harm is predictable. Liability exists if you intend to hit someone and shatter their weak skull even if not aware of the weakness. This also applies here. Was some extreme stress/mental harm predictable here? I would argue yes, thus liability attaches.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1004.

    Unspeakably angry about this.

    I'm a DPA professional in a large govt department, and my gut tells me this will almost certainly be down to heavy-handed DP compliance policies in the hospital: many data controllers use "compliance by intimidation" and put the fear of God in staff.

    I tell colleagues "nothing in the DPA says you can't make an honest mistake" - bet that's not the hospital's way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1003.

    Was lady concerned another casualty of the corporate structure.

    I would like to know how she was treated after the scam was revealed by her employers. Was she supported?

    Or was she told that she would lose her job? Was she told that she would never work again? Was she told that she had brought the company into disrepute

    Despite its sensationalism, the scam was no reason to commit suicide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    My take on this is that it shows how out of control our media has got. There was no need for a woman who had simply made a tiny and fairly inconsequential mistake to be named, but she was, and the consequences of naming her in a situation that involved the Royal family is that the woman's name would be remembered for decades and she would have little, if any, privacy. I couldn't live with that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.

    She was the person who ANSWERED THE CALL from the DJs and WAS NOT the nurse who discussed the duchess's medical condition.
    So what was said to her and by whom????

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    A harmless prank has now turned into a deadly prank which resulted to the death of an innocent person.

    Both DJ's should be fired and have a life time ban on returning to anything involving the media

  • rate this

    Comment number 999.

    What a tragic end to a supposed 'prank'. The DJs showed a complete lack of respect to the hospital employees and the patient - no matter who they had been trying to get information about (Royalty or not) the whole idea was disgraceful.
    My thoughts are foremost with the nurses' family and friends at this desperately sad time.

  • Comment number 998.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 997.

    those responsible should at lleast be sacked


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