London: The London hospital that treated Prince William’s wife Catherine has strongly condemned the Australian radio station whose hoax call led to a nurse’s death, while public anger mounted and station itself held an emergency meeting to review its policies on Sunday.
The body of Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found Friday in staff accommodation of London’s King Edward VII hospital, which was treating the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge for morning sickness.
Here’s a snapshot of the incidents that unraveled yesterday over the death of Saldanha:
The family of Saldanha, who was of Indian origin, said they were shocked to hear the “horrible news”.
Her family, living in Shirva town, 400km from the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, said they could not believe Jacintha was capable of taking her own life.
“We were shocked to hear from her husband [Benedict Barboza] that Jacintha was no more. He did not tell us that she committed suicide,” Jacintha’s sister-in-law, Irene D’Souza, said.
“It is hard to believe Jacintha could commit suicide, as she was not such a woman to do it.”
D’Souza said Jacintha was planning to come to India to celebrate Christmas with the family who were all planning a big party. “But today we are going to the church to pray for her soul and for her children who are going through a bad time.”
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.”
Jacintha’s cousin Mary said: “She had plans to start a nursing centre in India and encouraged several young girls to study medicine. Her positive energy made all the difference.”
Over 300 people attended the memorial service for Jacintha held in Shriva on Sunday. Saldanha lived with her husband and two children in the western English city of Bristol, where she had moved from India around 12 years ago.
POLICE START INQUIRY
Scotland Yard on Sunday contacted their Australian counterparts regarding the case.
It is understood they asked police in Sydney for assistance with a view to interviewing the two DJs who made the prank call ahead of an inquest into Saldanha’s death.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “Officers have been in contact with Australian authorities”.
Nick Kaldas, deputy commissioner for New South Wales Police, confirmed the request, telling Sky News: “It hasn’t been indicated to us that an offence has occurred and they have not actually asked for anything yet.
"They’ve simply touched base, let us know of their interest and they will get back to us if they actually want something done. Nothing has been requested of us yet."
A post-mortem examination is due to be held this week and an inquest opened and adjourned at Westminster Coroner’s Court, Scotland Yard said. The death is not being treated as suspicious, but is still being termed as “unexplained”.
Britain has reacted with horror to the death of Saldanha. Lord Simon Glenarthur, Chairman of the King Edward VII Hospital in London, wrote to Max Moore-Wilton, chairman of broadcasting group Southern Cross Austereo which owns 2Day FM, 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 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 Barboza and the couple’s son and daughter, aged 14 and 16.
RADIO REVIEWS POLICY
The board of Southern Cross Austereo held an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the letter from Lord Glenarthur.
Max Moore-Wilton, the chairman of 2DayFM owner Southern Cross Austereo, said in a letter to the hospital’s chairman that the company will cooperate with any investigation.
“It is too early to know the full details leading to this tragic event and we are anxious to review the results of any investigation that may be made available to us or made public,” he wrote.
“I can assure you we are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast and processes involved. As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was unforeseeable and very regrettable."
The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, says it received complaints from around the world and is considering whether it should launch an investigation.
DJS IN HIDING
Radio DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who made the prank call, went into hiding on Sunday amid fears for their mental health. Both were receiving “intensive psychological counselling” to deal with the tragedy of Jacintha Saldanha’s apparent suicide, Australian media reported.
Both DJs apologised for the prank before Saldanha’s death. Their show has been suspended indefinitely and their Twitter accounts have been taken down after they were bombarded by thousands of abusive comments.
In profile: the radio station
The Sydney radio station that made a hoax call to the hospital treating Duchess of Cambridge three days before the nurse who took the call apparently killed herself, has frequently attracted controversy.
In August 2009, Kyle Sandilands, a DJ on 2Day FM, sparked a public backlash following a lie-detector stunt in which a 14-year-old girl revealed she had been raped. Sandilands was dropped as a judge on Australian Idol and criticised by the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, for his role.
The DJ also provoked fury in November last year after he launched a verbal attack on a female journalist, Alison Stephenson, who had reported on the low ratings of a TV show O’Neil and Sandilands presented.