News Column

Jacintha Saldanha, Nurse in Prank Call, Hanged Herself

Dec. 14, 2012

The nurse who took the prank call made by two Australian radio DJs to a London hospital treating the duchess of Cambridge was found hanging in nearby living quarters, an inquest in London was told Thursday.

Indian-born Jacintha Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two teenagers, was found dead on December 7, following the prank call that the Sydney radio station 2Day FM had made three days earlier.

Two notes were found in her room and a third among her possessions, and there were injuries to her wrist, Westminster Coroner's Court in London was told. "At this time there are no suspicious circumstances," the inquest heard.

Detectives said they are also looking into telephone calls and emails to see if they throw any light on the death of Saldanha, who was on duty at the private King Edward VII clinic when the prank call came in, on December 4.

Kate, the duchess of Cambridge, had been admitted to the hospital for treatment of severe morning sickness the previous day. The callers, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, pretended to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, and were put through to another nurse who provided information on the condition of the duchess.

Investigators from Scotland Yard would also be in contact with their colleagues in Australia to interview witnesses to "put the best evidence" before the inquest, which was adjourned until March 26.

Meanwhile, it was announced that a memorial service for Saldanha, a devout Roman Catholic, would be held in London's Westminster Cathedral on Saturday.

Reports from India have said her burial would take place in Saldanha's native village in Shirva, some 400 kilometres west of Bangalore.

Australia's media watchdog launched a probe into the prank call - just days after the presenters expressed regret for the nurse's death.

Greig and Christian blamed 2Day FM management, saying they had no say in approving the controversial broadcast.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority said it would be "examining whether the licensee has complied with its broadcasting obligations."

Southern Cross Austereo, owner of 2Day FM, described Saldanha's death as "regrettable" and promised to give 500,000 Australian dollars (520,000 US dollars) to a memorial fund run by the hospital.

It has promised to be "fully cooperative with all investigations."

The inquiry will centre on who gave approval for the prank call to be broadcast. The Commercial Radio Code of Practice requires permission to be given for the recording of a private conversation to be broadcast.

Southern Cross Austereo, which revealed the call was recorded rather than broadcast live, claimed it had tried five times to get through to hospital management before it broadcast the call.

Management has refused to identify who made those calls or who approved the broadcast.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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