The nurse who was duped by Australian DJ’s into giving out intimate details about the Duchess of Cambridge has died, after what is suspected to be a suicide. Jacintha Saldanha, who worked as a receptionist, was found unconscious at 9.30am this morning, near King Edward VII Hospital where she worked. The two Australian presenters, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, called the hospital and pretended to be the Queen and Prince Charles so that they could get private details about Kate’s condition. It is thought that the trained nurse was actually helping out on reception when the call came in at 5.30am.
The prank hit the headlines all over the world but despite the embarrassment it may have caused, it is believed that the King Edward VII Hospital were not intending to discipline the mother of two over the incident, instead, they announced her death with ‘very deep sadness.’ In a statement issued by the hospital, they said: “Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII Hospital for more than four years. She was an excellent nurse and well respected and popular with all over her colleagues.”
DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian asked Ms Saldanha if they could be put through to Catherine, who then connected them to another nurse who gave details of Kate’s condition, who was at the time, suffering from acute morning sickness at the London hospital. The laughing DJ’s commented how they thought the joke was ‘easiest prank call ever made’, and they described their British accents as ‘terrible’.
The King Edward VII hospital confirmed that Ms Saldanha was the nurse who took the hoax call in their statement to the press this afternoon: “We can 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, Chief Executive at King Edward VII’s Hospital, said: “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.” Lord Glenarthur, Chairman of King Edward VII’s Hospital, says, “This is 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.” Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “This is tragic news, and the thoughts of all at the Royal College of Nursing go to the family of Jacintha Saldanha. It is deeply saddening that a simple human error due to a cruel hoax could lead to the death of a dedicated and caring member of the nursing profession.”
DJ Michael Christian boasted about the prank on his Twitter account yesterday but was said to have made a public apology for the inconvenience caused today: “2Day FM sincerely apologises for any inconvenience caused by the enquiry to Kate’s hospital. The radio segment was done with the best intentions and we wish Kate and her family all the best.” It is thought that the call was pre-recorded and did not go out live and was vetted by lawyers before t was broadcast.
Regarding the death of Ms Saldanha, a spokesman for Scotland Yard said yesterday: “Police were called at approximately 9.25am on Friday, December 7, to a report of a woman found unconscious an address in Weymouth Street, W1.‘London Ambulance Service attended and the woman was pronounced dead at the scene. Inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident. The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage.”