UK & World News
Kate Prank Call Nurse 'Commits Suicide'
A nurse duped by a prank phone call at the hospital treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge has died in a suspected suicide.
Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who has worked at the hospital for four years, was found dead at an address near King Edward VII's hospital in London on Friday morning.
The hospital confirmed she had been the victim of a hoax call in which two Australian DJs, pretending to be the Queen and Prince of Wales, phoned up about Kate.
Ms Saldanha, a mother of two, received the call and put it through to the ward where another nurse updated the pair on the Duchess, who was being treated for severe morning sickness.
Sky News crime correspondent Martin Brunt said the nurse was from Bristol and has a son and a daughter. "The hospital had not suspended Ms Saldanha, nor disciplined her," he added.
Her family said in a statement: "We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha."
The owners of the radio station say the two DJs behind the call are "deeply shocked" by the tragedy. They have been dropped from their show until further notice amid a major backlash.
Kate, who is understood to be well under 12 weeks pregnant, was admitted to the hospital on Monday after falling ill over the weekend and released again on Thursday.
The Duchess and her husband, William, the Duke of Cambridge, said in a statement that they were "deeply saddened" by the nurse's death.
"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," they said.
A St James's Palace spokesman added: "At no point did the Palace complain to the hospital about the incident. On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."
The King Edward VII Hospital said: "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."
Hospital chief executive John Lofthouse 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, the hospital's chairman, said: "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, added: "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."
Police were called to the address at 9.35am on Friday after a report about a woman found unconscious. Paramedics rushed to the property but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Inquiries are continuing to establish the circumstances of the incident. The death is not being treated as suspicious at this stage."
Michael Christian and Mel Greig, DJs on the 2DayFM radio station, broadcast their call to the hospital on Wednesday morning.
Greig, impersonating the Queen, asked to speak to her "granddaughter Catherine" and managed to persuade Ms Saldanha to put her through to the ward where Kate was being treated.
The security breach was deeply embarrassing for the hospital, which is the medical institution of choice for the Royal Family.
The DJs apologised for the prank after an initial furore but later took to Twitter to brag of their success - calling it the "easiest prank call ever made".
Following Ms Saldanha's death, the radio station's owners said: "Southern Cross Austereo and 2Day FM are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward VII's Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world.
"Chief Executive Officer 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."
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