Royal hoax DJs taken off air after death

2012-12-08 08:52

London - A nurse at the hospital which treated Prince William's pregnant wife Catherine has been found dead in a suspected suicide days after being duped by a hoax call from an Australian radio station.

The royal couple said they were "deeply saddened" by Jacintha Saldanha's death on Friday, and the radio station announced it had taken the two presenters who made the call off the air until further notice.

Police said Saldanha's death was unexplained but was not being treated as suspicious. Her employers, the private King Edward VII hospital in central London, refused to comment on media reports that she had taken her own life.

Saldanha had accepted a hoax call from the two presenters pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and William's father Prince Charles, before passing it on to a colleague who divulged details of Kate's condition.

The hoax caused a global media storm, coming barely a day after the palace revealed the 30-year-old royal was pregnant following her admission to hospital on Monday with severe morning sickness. She stayed three nights.

In what it billed as the "biggest royal prank ever", presenter Mel Greig from Sydney's 2Day FM station called the hospital on Tuesday pretending to be the queen and asked to speak to the former Kate Middleton.


Saldanha said, "Oh yes, just hold on, Ma'am", before putting her through to another nurse who revealed that Kate "hasn't had any retching with me since I've been on duty and she has been sleeping on and off".

2Day FM's owners Southern Cross Austereo said Greig and her co-host Michael Christian "are both deeply shocked" at the news of Saldanha's death.

"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," the station said in a statement.

The chief executive of the hospital, John Lofthouse, said the nurse's death was "tragic".

"Jacintha was a first-class nurse who cared diligently for hundreds of patients during her time with us over the last four years," he said.

"Everyone is shocked by the loss of a much-loved and valued colleague."

No royal complaint

He said the hospital, a favourite of the royals for years, had been trying to help Saldanha "through this very difficult time" after the call sparked intense media coverage.

The family of the nurse, who reportedly had two children, appealed for privacy while they came to terms with her death.

"We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha," they said in a statement.

St James' Palace, the office of William and Kate, also offered its condolences and stressed that it had not complained about the prank.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," the palace said.

"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 spokesperson later 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."

Social network outrage

Police said they had been called to an address close to the hospital on Friday morning following reports that a woman was unconscious, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The death is being treated as unexplained," a statement said, while a spokesperson said results of a post-mortem were due this weekend.

The Australian presenters had insisted their hoax was lighthearted and even Prince Charles joked about the incident, saying to reporters asking him about Kate's condition on Thursday: "How do you know I'm not a radio station?"

But news of the nurse's death sparked outrage on social networking sites.

More than 8 300 comments had hit 2Day FM's Facebook page by early Saturday, some saying Greig and Christian had blood on their hands and calling angrily for them to be dismissed.

"Not so darn funny now is it? A British nurse is DEAD for the sake of a couple of cheap laughs. Shame on you!" wrote Kim Wilson.

The widespread shock at the nurse's death is a sharp contrast with the excitement that greeted the announcement of a new royal heir this week. William and Kate's first child will be third in line to the British throne.


  • zapadela.tistarocha - 2012-12-08 09:12

    Unfortunately these Aussies never stood a change once their roots/beginnings in Illawarra is considered.

      christopher.laurenz.5 - 2012-12-08 10:12

      @Salee...committing suicide is not tough, its a cowardly thing to do. So that is why I will never commit suicide, I face my problems head on. People that commit suicide are just selfish and only care about themselves and don't give a sh*t who they hurt around them. What if she had or does have (article does not stipulate) children, do you think its a cool thing for those children not to have a Mother, because she was made out as a joke.

      zapadela.tistarocha - 2012-12-08 10:18

      Paranoia dictates this Lady was taken out by the Queen's strike team that took Diana out.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-12-08 10:32

      I agree Christopher!

      sipho.zipi - 2012-12-09 08:05

      How can the pregnancy of one individual cause so much chaos and death. This is crazy.

      johan.mostert.967 - 2012-12-10 07:39

      I think the royal family and hospital felt like idiots for being shown to have terrible control over their security and private information, and was looking for someone to take the blame. I think behind the scenes they had quite a tantrum, blaming and finger pointing. Very much like the ANC here, there is always someone small that must take the blame.

      kelvyn.davidson.1 - 2012-12-10 07:49

      christopher.laurenz.5 I agree with you 100% I have lost people close to me through taking of their own lives, it is a selfish and cowardly act, the devastation that is left behind is unthinkable. On the topic of this particular act of suicide, Really ? REALLY ? you are called by someone who kind of sounds like charlie, you give factual yet non specific information, such as " she is resting" and this is not only a boring stupid prank that is not worthy of humour , yet some very sad person takes it upon herself to top herself ! rather naive of the world to feel this is a direct result, perhaps a systematic series of events and a struggle with depression would be the reason, no one person can be blamed for this persons selfish cowardly act of taking her life. Suicide is an illegal act , attempted suicide is punishable by law, so why all the sympathy ?

  • miandra.vanzyl - 2012-12-08 09:29

    Can't believe it, it was a prank call! Lots of DJs do it and I think we must blame her superintendent who maybe told her, she lost her job. Even Prince Charles thought it was funny!

      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-08 14:31

      So its not illegal to pretend to be who you are not? Interesting concept. I am off to the bank to pretend I am someone else, oer maybe pretend to be someone else at passport control, or at a government function. You think I will get a good giggle, or marched off in handcuffs?!

      ryan.a.smith.3958 - 2012-12-08 18:47

      its a sad situation, but i dont agree with the djs being taken off air since they cannot be held responsible. no one in the world would have expected the nurse to commit suicide

  • annelise.vanderschyff - 2012-12-08 09:33

    Very sad RIP

  • andre.krige - 2012-12-08 10:09

    Surely the receptionist who put the call through without screening the caller is to blame too . Im sure the nurse was under pressure and wouldn't expect it to be a pranker and dare ask! Especially being under stress with treating a Royal. I don't blame the pranksters entirely. It was intended to be a joke and no one expected this outcome.The hospital is also to blame. Sad story.

      kirchnerv - 2012-12-08 10:54

      It's the receptionist who killed herself, not the nurse who divulged information

      kirchnerv - 2012-12-08 10:56

      Correction, not receptionist, but she was the one who took the call.

      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-08 14:34

      How is the hospital to blame? So if someone steals your identity ( as these DJ's did with the royal Family) and cleans out your bank account, you must be to blame.

  • makarapakaplan - 2012-12-08 10:35

    Another royal family publicity stunt, they always like to be in the news.

      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-08 14:34

      You talking about the one in KZN of course!

  • veldt66 - 2012-12-08 11:02

    Until yr relative commits suicide you can't figure out the full effects of it. Christopher & co I hpe u guys get a chance

  • shamus.mossop - 2012-12-08 11:14

    Do we blame the clerk at a liquor store when someone drives drunk and kills someone?

      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-08 14:36


  • vluiz - 2012-12-08 11:15

    Look, if this women killed herself because of what basically amounts to a practical joke, then she obviously had some underlying issues. Its a bit of a week excuse for suicide.

      richard.sole.5099 - 2012-12-08 15:41


      Chris - 2012-12-08 19:20

      do not comment if you can not spell , must be an australian

      vluiz - 2012-12-08 21:43

      Excellent arguments guys. You really showed me.

      vluiz - 2012-12-08 21:56

      Oh, and *cannot* not can not

      johan.mostert.967 - 2012-12-10 07:33

      cannot |k?'nät; 'kan?ät| contraction of can not. USAGE Both the one-word form cannot and the two-word form can not are acceptable, but cannot is far more common in all contexts. Indeed, can not has come to be so unusual that it may be read as an error.

  • roslyndavidrose - 2012-12-08 11:17

    If kates condition was such a state secret, why weren't her bodyguards manning the swithchboard? Its ridiculous that royalty can't just be treated like the normal humans that they are. Hospitals get so-called family enquiring after loved ones daily, and no one expects switchboard operators to do heavy security screening on every call. If anyone is to blame, its the culture of treating royalty like gods

      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-08 14:41

      Her condition gives someone else the right to go interfere where they have no right. Impersonation of another IS a crime, ask your bank, or any organization you deal with!

  • Anthony - 2012-12-08 11:18

    wow ---south africans are such-- caring and kind individuals --filled with love and compassion and so UNDERSTANDING of a sad sad story after having read all the comments RIP the south african spirit ---dead and gone a long time ago ,shame

      zapadela.tistarocha - 2012-12-08 11:33


      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-08 14:42

      Dude, South Africans deserve South Africa, and everything they are experiencing, no exceptions!

      scebberish.umfazi - 2012-12-08 14:49

      South African males are the most insecure unstable people on earth. So they have to pretend to be so macho and be the man. tennis balls under the armpits. cowboy walk and all, but the only grey matter in their solid heads is the grey stuff drooling from their noses. Paranoid insecure neanderthals.

      vluiz - 2012-12-08 21:54

      Wow scebberish. Chip on your shoulder much?

  • mphandejohn - 2012-12-08 12:30

    Sad. RIP.

  • diran.pillay - 2012-12-08 12:51

    Maybe her employer gave her a hard time for accepting the prank call, maybe she almost lost her job, maybe she did lose her job! I'm sure the right story will come out!

  • george.pito - 2012-12-08 13:15

    Feel more sorry for the Aussies. To commit suicide over this probably waited for an excuse. There must have been something else wrong.

  • angela.botha.33 - 2012-12-08 15:11

    Adhere to the Law of Unintended Cosequences and these punks will be jailed.Misrepresenting oneself is a crime in this case as they intended to use the information gained to bully the victim, promote themselves and gain notoriety...all at the expense of a hardworking and beautiful Nurse.Strange that the Mufdock debacle started from Aus as -tapping is a crime,as this is,though I agree that they never intended for a death to result,they did n t think the plan through and deserve to be ostracised from society as they are asordid little duo

      Bob.Cee123 - 2012-12-08 17:13

      You might be a little mixed up on the 'law of unintended consequences', Angela. Nobody in their right mind would deny that her death is a sad and awful thing, more especially because she was a mom. However, it appears she might well have been a suicide waiting for an excuse to happen. Seeing as she was manning the phones, she may well have been a junior member of the team, and could likely have received a very harsh talking to from either the hospital's matron or the nursing sister to whom she put the call through. Now, let's accept that humans being humans, mistakes are more frequent than we'd care to admit, and she could easily have received a dressing-down over the coming weeks for any of a number of minor transgressions. She could even have missed a bus / train to work and arrived late and been reprimanded. She could have made a paperwork error etc. Could any of these accumulate on a particularly bad day, to trigger her decision to end it all? Quite likely. Sure, the prank was the trigger which could've been the last straw for the poor lady, but was her suicide reasonably foreseeable or intended? Not a chance!!! There is clearly a bigger back-story and it's highly likely there was a history of stress, depression and possibly even friction in the workplace. Demonizing the radio hosts may appease the short-sighted, knee-jerk, angry-mob who are baying for heads-on-sticks, but it will certainly not address the true root cause, which we may not know right now.

  • richard.sole.5099 - 2012-12-08 15:56

    Suicide is a very personal thing! Wrongfully called "Selfmoord" in Afrikaans. Main Case is "Depression" which is a treatable illness - if gotten to in time. To say it is a "Selfish Act" is selfish it self - the suicide needed help and all around did not take note and provide comfort. I have been there and have done quite a study on suicide and best ways to do it, Betty Bags are legal in some countries (Australia and Canada) and I and my wife have talked about it a lot and last thing we want to become is a vegetable for a few years due to the Big C or even Alzheimer's. The people around this lady failed her! Having a name and last names such as Jacintha Saldanha should have toughened her up already - what original nationality would she have been? Alone in London? Depressing surroundings? I say it again: The people around this lady failed her!

      Bob.Cee123 - 2012-12-08 17:47

      "I say it again: The people around this lady failed her!" I believe you are onto something there, Richard. While the prank call may have been a trigger, a deeper root cause is what set the scene for this suicide.

      vluiz - 2012-12-08 21:50


  • STEPHANIE.TEALE - 2012-12-08 16:23

    So cannot be undone !! May those who are to blame understand this! Strength to the family and friends of the gentle souled nurse!

  • goldwright - 2012-12-08 18:14

    As tragic as the suicide was, the way I see it, you don't kill yourself over something like that incident - from what the media reports tell us, & from what I can gather, no one blamed her personally for taking that call & the hospital were counselling/supporting her, so she must have had other issues to want to kill herself. Don't think one can really blame the Aussie dj's - what about the lax security of the hospital switchboard, especially when they knew they were dealing with royalty? I mean really, people kill themselves over worse things than a silly prank call...... she must have had other issues.

  • johnwyattcapetown - 2012-12-08 19:44

    Looking at the pic of the radio presenter Mel - I'd also get him right off the airways......and straight onto TV.

  • johnwyattcapetown - 2012-12-08 19:45

    Looking at the pic of the radio presenter Mel - I'd also kick him off the airways......and straight into TV.

  • silke.kaiser.148 - 2012-12-09 06:50

    There must have been other issues in this nurse's life. She was not being blamed by anyone, so if she was emotionally healthy then she would have been able to move past this. Having said that, may Jacinda rest in peace. Would also like to add that the prank was fantastic, and I think that those two dj's should be put back on air immediately

  • malcolm.stevens.129 - 2012-12-09 07:32

    Don't blame the DJs - it is not their fault, I mean a victim of a prank committing suicide is completely unforeseen. The woman clearly had mental issues so stop the blame game. Remember when Whackhead pranked the Aussie station to the tune that they spent millions of dollars promoting their live interview with Tom Cruise? Well that station manager could have committed suicide too, would we then chastise Darren? No way, I'd give him a pat on the back and say thanks for helping rid the world of some defective genes.

  • jamesrw.wadsworth - 2012-12-09 09:21

    Reminds me of a local "DJ" who does the same. What if the same happened here, just because he wanted a good laugh, all "in the name of fun". These days people are at wits end, the economy in shatters, financial woes. What would it take, a little prank, to push them over the edge?

  • annie.israel.50 - 2012-12-09 11:22

    R.I.P to the nurse and condolences to her family - Very happy that these two morons are taken of the air - they were idiots with the calls they made and laughed about it stating that "this was the easiest joke we played" LOOK AT U NOW MORONS - U ARE BOTH PATHETIC HUMAN BEINGS and people commenting stupid remarks about committing suicide - YOU ARE JUST AS BAD AS THESE DJ's - DISGUSTING!!!

  • pieter.vandenheever.96 - 2012-12-09 11:23

    What did you expect from jailbird offspring

      boereroo.jackman - 2012-12-10 04:34

      Are you referring to your president's children?

  • damian.greyone - 2012-12-09 14:16

    One less cowardly oxygen waster

  • Sam - 2012-12-09 16:23

    "The death is being treated as unexplained," - here's an explanation: the royal family orchestrated this as a statement to the world's media that they must stay away from this overrated couple. They couldn't kill the DJ's - that would be too obvious - so kill the nurse who put the call through - let's show the media that their actions can affect innocent victims as well. All the while pretening that they weren't bothered by it. Very cunning - yes, I see through you - not many do, but believe me, your footprints are all over this. Good luck to the DJ's, who are indirectly being targeted by all of this. Wake up, world- the royal family is a satanic cult!

  • likeitis.insa - 2012-12-09 20:41

    the female radio presenter looks hot. definately not a face for radio.... wasted

  • richard.zanner - 2012-12-09 21:16

    I heard the call and I have to sat that I thought it was pretty funny and was not disrespectful. It is sad that it has now led to this tragedy and I find it hard to understand how it went this far. I do not blame the DJs for this and am pretty sure that they feel miserable but they could never have predicted this. These prank calls are part of every day life.

  • vee.gate - 2012-12-10 00:33

    zapadela.tistarocha I agree, stupidity is a virtue and ArseTralians got it in bucket loads (Not the sharpest tool in the toolbox)It is the same radio station that got "TOOLS" like Kyle Sandilands and Jackie "O" what an idiot.

      boereroo.jackman - 2012-12-10 04:36

      Pretty much in the same manner as Whackhead does every day then? Guess its just being a tool when it's not coming from your own ranks. Get a grip you moron.

  • maylani.bezuidenhout - 2012-12-10 15:25

    Everyone is jumping off the deep end with this. Its not even clear that it was a suicide or that it was because of the prank call. But I guess we should all think before we act.

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