News

Royal prank death nurse criticised hospital in suicide note

ONE of three apparent suicide notes left by the nurse at the centre of the royal hoax phone call criticised staff at the King Edward VII hospital where she worked, the Guardian has reported.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found hanged in her apartment in the nurses' quarter of the hospital in central London, by a colleague and a security officer, an inquest into her death heard on Thursday.

Three notes were found, two at the scene and one in the nurse's belongings.

The dead woman's family has been given typed copies of the three handwritten notes by the police and has read the contents, the Guardian has been told.

One note deals with the hoax call by the DJs from 2Day FM, another details her requests for her funeral, and the third addresses her employers, the hospital, and contains criticism of staff there, the Guardian understands from two separate sources.

Meanwhile, Southern Cross Austereo staff have reportedly been moved to safehouses and management have hired bodyguards as police investigate death threats against the company's employees.

About a dozen staff have been moved to hotels and up to 10 executives have been assigned bodyguards, costing the embattled radio company an estimated $75,000 a week, News Ltd reports.

Royal radio prank nurse left three suicide notes, inquest told

A family photo of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who was found dead after being caught up in a Royal radio prank involving a Sydney station.
A family photo of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who was found dead after being caught up in a Royal radio prank involving a Sydney station.

The nurse duped by a prank call from Australian radio DJs while she was caring for the Duchess of Cambridge left three notes before she died, a coroner heard in the UK.

Two were in the room where Jacintha Saldanha was found hanging by colleagues, while a third was found among her personal possessions, police said.

During an inquest hearing this morning, the Metropolitan Police confirmed that they would speak to their Australian colleagues about interviewing witnesses due to the "wider circumstances" which surround the case, before reporting back.

It has also emerged that the radio station involved faces losing its broadcasting licence over the stunt as the Australian media regulator launches an investigation.

The coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox expressed her sympathy to Ms Saldanha's colleagues and family, who she said have been "touched by her death".

Giving evidence at Westminster Coroner's Court this morning, Detective Chief Inspector James Harman said that she was found by a colleague and a security guard in the nurse's quarters at the King Edward VII's hospital in London.

He confirmed that the nurse was found hanging and that she had cuts on her wrists. DCI Harman added that Scotland Yard expected be in contact with police in New South Wales in the very near future to interview witnesses to "put the best evidence before" the coroner about the circumstances of the death.

He said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Ms Saldanha's death.

The body of Indian-born Ms Saldanha had been visually identified by her accountant husband Benedict Barboza, the court heard. No family members were present at the short hearing but colleagues from the hospital were in court to represent Ms Saldanha.

The nurse took the call made by the Australian DJs pretending to be the Queen and Prince Philip while Kate Middleton was in the hospital in which she worked suffering from acute morning sickness. She was taken in by their trick and transferred the call.

Last night, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced that it has opened a formal investigation into the prank. The investigation will focus on the compliance of the licensee, Today FM Sydney Pty Ltd, with its licence conditions and the Australian Commercial Radio Codes of Practice, it said.

Chris Chapman, the ACMA chairman, said the investigation would not focus on the presenters. "The ACMA will be examining whether the licensee has complied with its broadcasting obligations," he said.

The station 2Day FM has been criticised in the past over its broadcasting standards. In 2009, a 14-year-old girl was encouraged to reveal that she had been raped while strapped to a lie-detector on air. And the same presenter Kylie Sandilands later called a female journalist "some fat slag" and a "piece of shit".

The station's parent company has pledged to donate £326,000 from its advertising profits to a memorial fund set up in Mrs Saldanha's name by King Edward VII Hospital.

2Day FM's chief executive expressed his sorrow. Rhys Holleran said: "It is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts continue to be with the family."

The coroner opened and adjourned the inquest, giving a provisional date of March 26 2013 for it to continue.

 If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide contact Lifeline 13 11 14, beyondblue 1300 22 46 36, or Salvo Care Line 1300 36 36 22

Topics:  editors picks, jacintha saldanha, nurse death, royal radio prank



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