Kate hoax: Radio station to donate to nurse family

Keith Vaz MP and Benedict Barboza
Image caption Jacintha Saldanha's family visited the hospital in London after meeting Keith Vaz MP

The Australian radio station whose DJs made a hoax call to a nurse who was later found dead is to give at least £320,000 to a fund for her family.

Sydney broadcaster 2Day FM said it would donate the money from its advertising profits.

Jacintha Saldanha transferred the call to a colleague who gave information about the Duchess of Cambridge, who was a patient at the London hospital.

Meanwhile, David Cameron has called Mrs Saldanha's death "an absolute tragedy".

Mrs Saldanha's post-mortem examination is to take place later.

She answered the Australian presenters' call in the early hours of the morning on 4 December and, believing they were members of the Royal Family, put them through to another nurse, who gave an update on the duchess's condition in detail.

The duchess was being treated in the King Edward VII's Hospital for hyperemesis gravidarum, an extreme form of morning sickness.

Mrs Saldanha, 46, was pronounced dead on Friday morning at staff accommodation close to the hospital. An inquest into her apparent suicide is due to be opened in the next few days.

'Loving mother'

The company which owns the station, Southern Cross Austereo, said all profits from advertising on 2Day FM for the rest of the year would be donated to an appropriate memorial fund that would directly benefit the family, with at least 500,000 Australian dollars (£320,000) being donated.

Rhys Holleran, SCA's chief executive, said: "We are very sorry for what has happened. It is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts continue to be with the family.

"We hope that by contributing to a memorial fund we can help to provide the Saldanha family with the support they need at this very difficult time."

It also cancelled its Christmas party, saying it would be "inappropriate" to go ahead.

Lord Glenarthur, chairman of King Edward VII's Hospital, welcomed the media company's decision and said that the contribution could be made to the hospital's own memorial fund if the company wished.

He added that it had received many donations from around the world.

Speaking to the Commons Liaison Committee, the prime minister said what happened to Mrs Saldanha was "an absolute tragedy for the family."

He said he was sure there would be lessons to learn and that having the full facts of the case would help the family come to terms with what had happened.

Mrs Saldanha's family made a private visit to King Edward VII's Hospital in London, where she worked, on Monday.

MP Keith Vaz, who met Mrs Saldanha's family in Parliament on Monday night, said they had been left "devastated" by the loss of "a loving mother and a loving wife".

Flanked by Mrs Saldanha's husband Benedict Barboza and her two teenage children, Mr Vaz said: "They just want me to say that they are extremely grateful to the public here in the United Kingdom and throughout the world who have sent them messages of condolences and support following the death of Jacintha.

"This is a close family. They are devastated by what has happened. They miss her every moment of every day, but they are really grateful to the support of the British public and to the public overseas for the messages of support and kindness."

'Gutted and heartbroken'

Mr Vaz had earlier criticised the hospital for not giving the family more support.

He said: "The hospital has sent them a letter, which I have seen, but I'm surprised that nobody has made the journey to Bristol to sit with them and offer them the counselling that I think they need."

In response, the hospital said its chief executive, John Lofthouse, had spoken to Mr Barboza on Friday by phone and offered to meet him whenever he wanted.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMichael Christian and Mel Greig's emotional interview with Australian TV

The hospital has launched a memorial fund to support the nurse's family and a private memorial service will be held later this week.

In the hoax call the presenters, Michael Christian and Mel Greig, had pretended to be Prince Charles and the Queen asking about the duchess in hospital.

They said in a tearful interview with Australian television broadcast on Monday that they were "gutted and heartbroken" by Mrs Saldanha's death.

Christian said: "It was something that was just fun and light-hearted and a tragic turn of events no-one could have predicted or expected.

"We are shattered, heartbroken and our deepest sympathy goes to the family, friends and all those people affected. Mel and myself are incredibly sorry for the situation and what's happened."

Meanwhile, the Duchess of Cambridge has cancelled an appearance at the premiere of the Hobbit on Wednesday. Her office says she will continue to "rest privately" at home. Prince William is due to attend.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites