* Nurse found dead days after Australian radio hoax call
* London hospital was treating Kate for morning sickness
* William and Kate "deeply saddened" by the death
* Radio hosts "shocked"
By Tim Castle
LONDON, Dec 7 A nurse who answered a prank call
at the London hospital that was treating Prince William's
pregnant wife Kate for morning sickness has been found dead, the
hospital said on Friday, in a suspected suicide.
The death comes days after the King Edward VII hospital
apologised for being duped by an Australian radio station and
relaying details about Kate's condition which made headlines
around the globe.
"It is with very deep sadness that we confirm the tragic
death of a member of our nursing staff, Jacintha Saldanha," John
Lofthouse, the King Edward's chief executive told reporters
outside the central London hospital.
"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."
Police said they had been called at 9:35 a.m. (0935 GMT)
about a woman found unconscious at an address near the hospital.
The woman was pronounced dead after ambulance staff arrived.
Police said the death was being treated as unexplained but
they were not looking for anyone else, indicating the nurse had
taken her own life.
William and Kate, who left the hospital on Thursday, said
they were "deeply saddened" by the death of the nurse, who was
married with two children.
"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," a statement from
William's office said.
The radio station launched its stunt in the wake of a frenzy
of media attention in Britain and worldwide after officials
announced Kate was pregnant with a future British king or queen.
Two presenters from Australia's 2Day radio station called
the hospital early on Tuesday British time, pretending to be
William's grandmother Queen Elizabeth and his father, the
heir-to-the throne Prince Charles.
Despite unconvincing accents, presenters Michael Christian
and Mel Greig were put through to the ward where Kate was being
treated and were given details about how she was faring.
Saldanha had answered the call as it was early morning and
there were no receptionists on duty, and had passed it to a
nurse on the ward. Saldanha, who had worked at the hospital for
four years, had not been facing any disciplinary action, a
"She was an excellent nurse and well-respected and popular
with all of her colleagues," Lofthouse said.
William's office said there had been no royal complaint
about the breach of confidentiality, although the hospital said
it was reviewing its "telephone protocols".
"On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support
to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times," a royal
William's father, Prince Charles, had made light of the
intrusion, joking to reporters after the incident: "How do you
know I'm not a radio station?'
The private hospital is one of Britain's most exclusive and
has a history of treating members of the royal family, including
the Queen's husband Philip who was admitted in June for a
bladder infection after taking part in a jubilee pageant on the
The prank call and its tragic aftermath comes as Britain's
own media scrambles to agree a new system of self regulation and
avoid state intervention following a damning inquiry into
A recording of the call was widely available on the Internet
and many newspapers printed a transcript of the call.
The Australian radio station and its owner Southern Cross
Austereo said the presenters were shocked and would
stay off their show until further notice out of respect for
"Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) 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.
"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," an
SCA statement said.
The two presenters deleted their Twitter accounts shortly
after the news broke and there was widespread condemnation of
their actions on the social media website.
"Remember that #RoyalPrank ...? Yeah, the girl you
humiliated is dead. You must feel great," one wrote.
Facebook tribute pages swiftly set up after the nurse's
death attracted messages of sympathy, some echoing calls for the
radio station to pay compensation to her family and for the
presenters to resign.
Saldanha's body was removed from the red brick, five-storey
building where it was found, and transferred to a small private
ambulance, shortly after the hospital confirmed her death, a
Reuters reporter at the scene said.
She had been staying in staff accommodation in the building,
away from her family in the city of Bristol, western England, a
Her family said they were deeply saddened and asked for
media to respect their privacy "at this difficult time", in a
statement released by police.