Australia launches inquiry into royal nurse prank call

Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:53am EST
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By James Grubel and Michael Holden

CANBERRA/LONDON (Reuters) - Australia's media regulator launched an investigation on Thursday into a prank call by a radio station to a London hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife, after the nurse who took the call committed suicide.

Jacintha Saldanha was found hanged, police told a coroner's inquest in London, days after the 46-year-old put the hoax call through to a colleague who disclosed details of the treatment being given to William's wife Kate, who is suffering from acute morning sickness.

The stunt by DJs at Sydney radio station 2Day FM made headlines around the world as did news of the death of Saldanha, who was married with two children. Her body was found at staff lodgings near King Edward VII hospital last Friday.

Detective chief inspector James Harman told the coroner, an official who certifies the causes of deaths, that Indian-born Saldanha was found hanging by a scarf. Three notes were discovered at the scene.

"There were also some injuries to the wrist," he told the coroner Fiona Wilcox in a small, wood-paneled court packed with reporters. Saldanha's family did not attend.

In a brief statement, the Australian Communications and Media Authority said it had opened a formal inquiry to see if 2Day FM had breached its license conditions and commercial radio codes of practice.

The codes state a radio station must not broadcast the words of an identifiable person unless the person has given permission for the broadcast. The station has said it tried to contact the hospital several times before it broadcast the prank call.

The authority can impose new license conditions if it finds a breach. In extreme cases it can suspend or cancel a broadcasting license.   Continued...

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha is seen in this undated handout photograph released by the Metropolitan Police in London December 8, 2012. REUTERS/Metropolitan Police/Handout