Trending news

PreviousNext

Jacintha Saldanha: Family's grief at 'suicide' of nurse who transferred DJs' hoax Kate Middleton hospital call

// Headline
  • Jacintha Saldanha found unconscious today near King Edward VII Hospital 
  • Mother-of-two transferred prank call from Australian DJs asking about Kate
  • Presenters behind the hoax are taken off air following tragedy
  • William and Kate 'deeply saddened' by death and say they did not complain
  • Hospital described her as 'excellent nurse who cared diligently for hundreds'
  • Mel Greig and Michael Christian boasted about prank as tragedy unfolded
  • Both deleted their Twitter accounts after global backlash following death
  • Radio station's Facebook account bombarded with abusive comments

By Arthur Martin, Martin Robinson and Anthony Bond

PUBLISHED: 09:20 EST, 7 December 2012 | UPDATED: 16:46 EST, 7 December 2012

The family of a nurse found dead in a suspected suicide just two days after transferring a hoax call about the Duchess of Cambridge tonight told of their devastation at losing their 'beloved Jacintha'.

Mother-of-two Jacintha Saldanha, who was working on the switchboard at the King Edward VII Hospital when 2DayFM obtained intimate details about Kate, was found dead this morning.

As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge spoke of their 'deep sadness' at the tragedy, the grieving family of the 'excellent' nurse said:  'We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha.'

Scroll down for video

Tragedy: The receptionist was found unconscious and later died after handling a prank call by Australian radio DJs concerning the condition of Kate Middleton as she was treated for extreme morning sickness

Tragedy: Kate and WIlliam have said they are 'deeply saddened' by Jacintha Saldanha's death and paid tribute to the care the Duchess received at the King Edward VII

Presenters: Mel Greig (left) and Michael Christian (right) made the call about the Duchess - which has been directly linked to Jacintha's death by the hospital

Sombre: Police guard the front of King Edward VII's hospital where Jacintha Saldanha had worked as a nurse for four years

Sombre: Police guard the front of King Edward VII's hospital where Jacintha Saldanha had worked as a nurse for four years

Prince William and his pregnant wife Kate today told how they are 'deeply saddened' by the tragedy. A Palace spokesman said the couple had not made a complaint about the prank call.

'Their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha’s family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time,' a statement said.

When asked if they had expressed concern, the spokesman added: 'On the contrary we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times.'

Tonight the owners of the radio station which employed Mel Greig and Christian Michael announced that the duo will not return to their show until further notice.

It is believed that senior management at 2Day FM were so shocked at the death of Jacintha that bosses have ordered the pair off the air - probably never to return.

A statement from the station owners said: 'Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and 2Day FM are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of the nurse, Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward V11 Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family, and all that have been affected by this situation around the world.

'CEO Rhys Holleran has spoken with the presenters, they are both deeply shocked, and at this time we have agreed that they not comment about the circumstances.

'SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show, until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy.'

'Deeply saddened': Body believed to be Jacintha Saldanha who was found unconscious this morning yards from the hospital where she worked

'Deeply saddened': Body believed to be Jacintha Saldanha who was found unconscious this morning yards from the hospital where she worked

Death: A police officer stands outside the home of Jacintha Saldanha in Bristol this evening

Death: A police officer stands outside the home of Jacintha Saldanha in Bristol this evening

Friend: The receptionist who has died was a nurse helping answer the phones

Distraught: Nurses at the hospital head inside while clinging to eachother after hearing the news about Jacintha today

Shattered: Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse spoke of their pain and sadness at the news of Jacintha's death - and clearly linked it to the hoax call she took from the Australian DJs

Shattered: Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse spoke of their pain and sadness at the news of Jacintha's death - and clearly linked it to the hoax call she took from the Australian DJs

News of the death broke in the middle of the night in Australia and it was only during the evening London time today  that Australians woke to hear about the tragedy.

It led the news on every radio station, including the national broadcaster, the ABC. It reported there had been an outpouring of anger in the UK and said thousands of people had demanded that the DJs be fired.

The Palace declined to say whether the Duchess met Jacintha Saldanha but it was very possible.

The King Edward VII hospital, who were not believed to be disciplining the nurse over the incident, said it announced her death with 'very deep sadness.'

Their statement added: '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.'

Ms Saldanha answered the hoax call at 5.30am on Wednesday morning and transferred the call through to Kate's ward.

Another nurse then told the giggling DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who were pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles, how the Duchess was about to 'get freshened up'.

The station apologised for 'any inconvenience caused' but provoked widespread fury and disbelief by continuing to continuing to promote its hoax, calling it 'the prank call the world is talking about' before playing clips of the recording.

As the backlash grew the DJs both deleted their Twitter accounts.The radio station's Facebook page was bombarded with thousands of abusive comments from outraged users.

Patrol: Police officers walk outside King Edward VII hospital, on the day the receptionist duped by Australian DJs died in a suspected suicide

Patrol: Police officers walk outside King Edward VII hospital, on the day a receptionist there duped by Australian DJs died in a suspected suicide

Scene: A police car stands outside where Jacintha Saldanha's body was found this morning

Scene: A police car stands outside where Jacintha Saldanha's body was found this morning

Accommodation: Jacintha was staying here - around the corner from the hospital - her family are believed to be in Bristol

Accommodation: Jacintha was staying here - around the corner from the hospital - her family are believed to be in Bristol

Guard: An officer guards the entrance to the block where the nurse's body was found

Guard: An officer guards the entrance to the block where the nurse's body was found

The emergency services were called and two ambulances were despatched to the central London residence today.

'A FIRST CLASS NURSE WHO CARED DILIGENTLY FOR HUNDREDS'

King Edward VII hospital spoke of the their shock at the death of Jacintha Saldanha in a statement:

'It is with very deep sadness that we confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha.

'Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII’s Hospital for more than four years. She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues.

'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.'

But paramedics were unable to revive her and she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her family, husband and two children have been informed.

The hospital said this afternoon: 'It is with very deep sadness that we confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha.

Jacintha has worked at the King Edward VII’s Hospital for more than four years. She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular with all of her colleagues.

'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, 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.'

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.'

Officers from Scotland Yard launched an investigation yesterday and are treating the death as ‘unexplained’.

The exact cause of death remained unclear. However, one source indicated that the woman appeared to have killed herself.

Shock: The exact cause of Jacinda's death has not yet been confirmed but it is being treated as suicide

Shock: The exact cause of Jacinda's death has not yet been confirmed but it is being treated as suicide

A neighbour of Jacintha described the tragic nurse as 'a lovely woman'.

Marianne Homes, 49, said: 'I've always known her as the doctor, she was always very smartly dressed.

'Their son was always really into football, we always saw him with a ball kicking it about with his friends.

'She was a lovely woman, everytime I saw her she would talk to me.

'I hadn't seen her for a while, I wondered what had happened to her it's so sad to know this has happened.

'She was always so smartly dressed and well presented.

'I think her kids are secondary school age, she definitely has one boy and one girl.'

A former neighbour of the nurse described her as a 'nice, lovely lady'.

The neighbour lived next door to Jacintha, her two sons and partner Benedict Barboza - know as Ben - at an address in Bristol several years ago.

Fighting back tears, she said: 'What a terrible tragedy - just before Christmas as well. Oh those two young boys - they'll be heartbroken. Her and Ben were a lovely couple.

'They didn't live here very long, but they were such nice neighbours - they invited us in for a curry when they moved in.

'They lived here seven or eight years ago, if not more. They kept themselves to themselves mostly.

'They bought their own house and moved on - they were just renting here I think.

'I can't believe what happened. It's so sad, so tragic. They always spoke to us - she was such a nice lady.

'It's devastating to hear she's gone - and in such circumstances that could be so easily avoided.

'Those Australians that called the hospital want stringing up.'

Household: The Bristol home of Jacintha Saldanha today following news of her death

Household: The Bristol home of Jacintha Saldanha today following news of her death

Even today Christian was urging people to tune in to their show to hear more about #royalprank.

In the 5.30am call Jacintha has connected them to another nurse who gave details of Kate's condition. The Duchess was suffering from acute morning sickness at the London hospital and was discharged yesterday after staying three nights.

The presenters, from 2Day FM, remarked during their show how their efforts were the 'easiest prank call ever made', as they put on mock British accents they later described as 'terrible'.

The Australian station and presenters advertised the stunt worldwide and today Christian was continuing to boast about the prank 'making international headlines' on Twitter.

Boast: 2dayFM still have the footage advertising the stunt that has triggered revulsion around the world

Boast: 2dayFM still have the footage advertising the stunt that has triggered revulsion around the world

Pose: DJ Mel Greig lies across the laps of One Direction when they flew into Australia this year

Pose: DJ Mel Greig lies across the laps of One Direction when they flew into Australia this year

Still boasting: DJ Michael Christian's Twitter feed today

Still boasting: DJ Michael Christian's Twitter feed today

Both presenters have deleted their Twitter accounts after an online backlash called for them to lose their jobs.

Abuse: DJ Mel Greig has deleted her Twotter account after she was bombarded with messages calling on her to quit

Abuse: DJ Mel Greig has deleted her Twotter account after she was bombarded with messages calling on her to quit

One user, Alison Hassell, told Greig: 'If you have any kind of conscience or morals..... Right about now you should be typing your resignation.'

Scott Ashworth tweeted: 'You scumbag, hope you get what's coming to you!', while another user, Michael Hird, wrote: 'I hope you're happy now.. The receptionist you rang has COMMITTED SUICIDE! You have blood on your hands now!'

Greig also received what appeared to be threats on the social networking site.

Costas Loizou swore at the presenter and ended his message: 'I might start calling your mum and leaving messages..in fact expect one on xmas day....'

Other users directed abuse at her co-presenter Christian. Justine Daniel told him the hoax was a 'sick joke' and added: 'Hope you're banished from being on air forever.'

Peter Timmins wrote: 'There are no words to describe the disgust that everyone else is feeling about the prank you thought so funny.'

Sinead Gavaghan called him a 'vile, stupid creature' while Chris Campbell claimed: 'You should be fired and the station shut down.'

In the call at 5.30am on Tuesday impersonating the Queen, Miss Greig said: ‘Oh, hello there. Could I please speak to Kate please, my granddaughter?’

Thinking she was speaking to the Queen, the receptionist replied: ‘Oh yes, just hold on ma’am’.

She then put the presenters through to one of the nurses who was caring for the Duchess.

The nurse also believed she was speaking to the Queen and went on to make a number of deeply personal observations about Kate’s health.

A recording of the entire conversation was played on the Sydney-based radio station 2Day.

A radio station spokesman later apologised for the 'inconvenience' caused by the call.

He said yesterday: '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.'

The station is owned by Southern Cross Austereo, an Australian media group formed in a merger last year that has a collection of TV and radio brands, and claims to be able to connect with 95 per cent of Australians every week.

The prank call was pre-recorded and vetted by lawyers before being broadcast in Sydney.

According to the website of the talent agency that promotes Greig, the prank was 'a bit of fun and indicative of Mel's high energy, anything for a laugh, personality'.

Row: The DJs - known simply as Matty and Mel - have been linked to the suspected suicide by the hospital Jacinda worked in

Row: The DJs - known simply as Matty and Mel - have been linked to the suspected suicide by the hospital Jacinda worked in

Shame: Mel Greig pictured with Australian singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte, has bragged along with her co-presenter for days of their hoax phone call

Shame: Mel Greig pictured with Australian singer Natalie Bassingthwaighte, has bragged along with her co-presenter for days of their hoax phone call

Her profile reads: 'Mel started at 2Day FM, Sydney's number one hit music station, in early 2012 after five years experience in commercial radio and off the back of running her own radio school from her home town in Adelaide.

'Mel is well known and loved for her stint on The Amazing Race Australia in 2011 with sister Alana.

'She is also the consummate MC and has hosted everything from fashion events, modelling comps and award nights.'

Hospital boss John Lofthouse confirmed his staff had passed on information about Kate, saying: 'This was a foolish prank call that we all deplore.'

Third visit: Prince William (centre) arrives at the King Edward VII Hospital to visit his wife the Duchess of Cambridge in central London yesterday, as news was developing of the extraordinary call

Third visit: Prince William (centre) arrives at the King Edward VII Hospital to visit his wife the Duchess of Cambridge in central London on Tuesday, as news was developing of the extraordinary call

A Scotland Yard spokesman 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’.

In a statement, the Royal College of Nursing said: 'The Royal College of Nursing has expressed sadness at the death of the nurse from the London hospital treating the Duchess of Cambridge who took a hoax call about the Duchess's condition.

'Jacintha Saldanha, who was found dead this morning, had worked at the King Edward VII Hospital for more than four years and was described by the hospital as a first-class nurse who had cared diligently for hundreds of patients during her time there.'

Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, 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.'

MailOnline did not publish details of the tragedy until the hospital confirmed the woman's family had been contacted.

Scrum: John Lofthouse the Chief Executive of King Edward VII's hospital. and Lord Glenarthur (2nd R), the hospital's Chairman, deliver a statement

Scrum: John Lofthouse the Chief Executive of King Edward VII's hospital. and Lord Glenarthur (2nd R), the hospital's Chairman, deliver a statement

LEVESON: AUSSIE HOAX PROVES NEW PRIVACY LAWS NEEDED

The prank call by Australian radio presenters who got a condition report from the Duchess of Cambridge's nurse by pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles proves the need for new privacy laws, Lord Justice Leveson has said.

He blamed the 'historic failure' of successive British governments for failing to curb media intrusion and added individuals who tweet or use social media platforms are not beyond reach of the criminal law.

The judge also criticised European magazines for publishing photographs of Kate topless on holiday and blamed the 'historic failure' of successive governments to curb media intrusion.

During a speech in Sydney, he refused to respond to what he described as 'misconceived' criticism of his milestone report into the press.

He was speaking to a £620-a-head audience at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Leveson criticised 'certain sections' of the press which had “started to push against ethical boundaries and in some instances have pushed too far'. He then highlighted the 'recent Australian intrusion' into the Duchess of Cambridge’s 'private life while she was in hospital'.

Today the Duchess of Cambridge was resting at the London home she shares with Prince William after her release from hospital yesterday morning, where she had been recovering from hyperemesis gravidarum.

She was forced to cancel a string of engagements because of her acute morning sickness.

Kate, who was admitted to hospital on Monday, returned to Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace and cancelled upcoming engagements after doctors told her to rest.

And she may have to recuperate without Prince William by her side, as he may be returning to duty with his Search and Rescue squadron at RAF Valley in Anglesey, it has been reported.

She missed a planned fund-raising engagement in the City of London on Wednesday because she was confined to hospital.

William and the Duchess of Cambridge had been hoping to keep the news they were expecting a baby to themselves until Christmas Day.

But with Kate admitted to hospital with acute morning sickness, they had little choice but to make the announcement.

They delighted millions around the world – including their own families – with the happy news.

But as the word spread, the parents-to-be were together in hospital, facing the first hurdle in a much longed for pregnancy.

Kate, 30, who is barely eight weeks pregnant, was taken to the hospital just after Sunday lunch by her husband and immediately put on a drip to stop her becoming dehydrated.

For confidential support call the Samaritans in the UK on 08457 90 90 90 or visit a local Samaritans branch.

'ROYAL HOSPITAL PRIDES ITSELF ON DISCRETION AND EXCELLENT CARE'

King Edward VII hospital is one of the most exclusive private hospitals in the country, attracting world-class medical specialists

It has been treating the Royal Family since it opened in 1899 at the suggestion of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and its patron is the Queen.

It prides itself on 'a strong tradition of excellence in nursing', with one of the best nurse-to-patient ratios in the country, far exceeding the national average.

Its website states: 'Our nursing staff are some of the very best and - unlike many hospitals - the vast majority are permanently employed by us.'

It also states there has never been a case of hospital acquired MRSA or C-difficile.

The hospital has been run by John Lofthouse, who has been chief executive since June 2009.  Prior to that he worked as a general manager at the privately owned Circle Health, managing the Nottingham NHS Treatment Centre.

Previous royal patients of King Edward VII include Prince Philip, who was treated for a bladder infection in June. Other royal patients are said to include Prince Charles, the Queen herself, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and the Countess of Snowdon.

However, it is unlikely that the new arrival to the family will be born at King Edward VII. St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, is the said to be the bookies' favourite, helping to affirm the new tradition of The royal family of having children in NHS hospitals.

Both Prince William and Prince Harry were born there, as were Zara and Peter Philips, the Princess Royal’s children. Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were born in the private Portland Hospital, while older generations, including Prince Charles, have traditionally been born at Buckingham Palace.

As a registered charity, there are currently around 1,800 Friends of the Hospital who contribute £40 per year. The hospital also claims to have more than 4,000 supporters and the 2010 annual report shows that more than £2 million was raised through fundraising.

Founded by Agnes Keyser in 1899 as a hospital for sick and wounded Officers returning from the Boer War, subsidies are automatically offered to all Service patients and are given regardless of rank, length of service or treatment.

ANNA HODGEKISS

VIDEO: HOSPITAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO CARING NURSE JACINTHA SALDANHA

 

Tagged as:

No tags for this article

Latest News Articles

Write Your Comment

Go Up!