World / Europe

Nurse's death sparks anger in UK

(Agencies/China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-10 09:10

Royal hoax call that apparently led to suicide 'truly appalling'

The London hospital that treated Prince William's wife Catherine has condemned the Australian radio station whose hoax call apparently led to a nurse's suicide, calling the stunt "appalling".

Britain has reacted with horror to the death of mother-of-two Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who is believed to have taken her own life after she was duped by two Australian radio presenters seeking news on Kate's pregnancy.

Nurse's death sparks anger in UK

A Union Flag attached to a cross stands in a planter outside King Edward VII's Hospital in central London on Saturday after nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found dead the previous day at a property close by. [Photo/Agencies]

Saldanha was found dead on Friday, days after answering a call to the hospital from hosts at Sydney's 2DayFM radio posing as Queen Elizabeth II and William's father Prince Charles.

She had put them through to a colleague who then divulged details of Kate's recovery from severe morning sickness.

The nurse's death has triggered a global wave of anger at the Australian presenters behind the hoax, Mel Greig and Michael Christian.

Flowers were placed on Saturday outside the nurses' accommodation block where Saldanha's body was discovered.

There was no receptionist on duty at 5:30 am on Tuesday when Greig and Christian called the private King Edward VII's Hospital, where Kate was being treated, and Saldanha had answered the phone.

On Saturday, hospital chairman Lord Simon Glenarthur wrote to Max Moore-Wilton, chairman of the broadcasting group Southern Cross Austereo, which owns 2DayFM, to protest "in the strongest possible terms" about the hoax.

"It was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients, let alone actually make the call," he wrote.

"Then to discover that, not only had this happened, but that the call had been pre-recorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station's management, was truly appalling.

"The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients.

"The longer-term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words."

At the family home in Bristol, southwest England, relatives and friends gathered round to comfort Saldanha's husband Benedict Barboza and the couple's son and daughter, aged 14 and 16.

Reports said the family had moved from India around a decade ago.

In a message posted on his Facebook page, Barboza reportedly wrote: "I am devastated with the tragic loss of my beloved wife Jacintha in tragic circumstances. She will be laid to rest in Shirva, India."

Neighbor Mary Atwell, 56, said: "She was a lovely, lovely person who always spoke to you when you saw her. You could always see that she was very dedicated to her job.

"Both DJs should be sacked. They should never have been allowed to do what they did," she added. "She would be alive today if they hadn't have made that call."

Several British newspapers reported that Greig and Christian face questioning from British police.

"Officers have been in touch with Australian authorities, but we're not prepared to discuss it any further than that," a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

Agence France-Presse

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