7 Dec 2012

Kate prank DJs dropped after nurse’s death

Following the death of the nurse at the centre of the Duchess of Cambridge prank call row, the radio hosts who made the call will not be returning to their show “until further notice”.

A spokesman for the Australian 2Day FM radio station said the decision had been taken “out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy”.

Meanwhile, the family of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who has died after a hoax call to the hospital which treated the Duchess of Cambridge, tonight said they were “deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha”.

Nurse Saldanha answered the telephone to Australian radio DJs who prank-called about Kate’s acute morning sickness just two days ago.

The DJs called the hospital pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles, and after being put through by Nurse Saldanha, obtained private medical information about the Duchess of Cambridge’s condition.

Their Royal Highnesses thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time. St James’s Palace

Police and ambulance services were called to an address near to the hospital this morning, but Nurse Saldanha was pronounced dead at the scene.

“She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues,” a hospital statement said.

“We an confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital. The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time.”

John Lofthouse, the chief executive of the hospital, added: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies at this time are with her family and friends. Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much loved and valued colleague.”

Nurse who took Kate prank call found dead (Reuters)

In a statement, Prince William and Kate said they were “deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha”.

St James’s Palace said: “Their Royal Highnesses 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.”

‘Tragic event’

It is understood that Nurse Saldanha took the call about Kate because it was overnight, when there are no receptionists working. Police confirmed that her death is being treated as unexplained.

In a statement, the Metropolitan police said: “Police were called at approx 0935hrs on Friday, 7 December, to reports of a woman found unconscious at an address in Weymouth Street, W1.

“LAS attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Inquiries continue to establish the circumstances of the incident. Next of kin have been informed. The death is being treated as unexplained.”

Lord Glenarthur, chairman of King Edward VII’s hospital, said it was a “tragic” event.

“Jacintha was a first class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients during her time with us. She will be greatly missed,” he said.

‘We’re very sorry’

Earlier this week Mel Greig and Michael Christian, presenters of the weeknight show The Summer 30, which broadcast the prank call, apologised for the hoax later, as did their radio station.

They said: “We were very surprised that our call was put through. We thought we’d be hung up on as soon as they heard our terrible accents.

“We’re very sorry if we’ve caused any issues and we’re glad to hear that Kate is doing well.”

A spokeswoman for the station said: “2Day FM sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused by the inquiries to Kate’s hospital. The radio segment was done with lighthearted intentions.”