December 9, 2012

Outrage follows London hospital prank

The death of the nurse who took a hoax call from radio DJs sparks an angry backlash of complaints.

The Associated Press

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Radio DJs Mel Grieg and Michael Christian

The Associated Press

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Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who took their prank call at a London hospital, was found dead three days later.

In the aftermath of Saldanha's death, some speculated about whether the nurse was subject to pressure to resign or about to be punished for the mistake. Royal officials said Prince William and Kate were "deeply saddened," but insisted that the palace had not complained about the hoax. King Edward VII's Hospital also maintained that it did not reprimand Saldanha.

"We did not discipline the nurse in question. There were no plans to discipline her," a hospital spokesman said. He declined to provide further details, and did not respond to questions about the second nurse's condition.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, said it has received complaints about the prank and is discussing the matter with the Sydney-based station, which yanked its Facebook page after it received thousands of angry comments.

Holleran, the radio executive, would not say who came up with the idea for the call. He only said that "these things are often done collaboratively." He said 2DayFM would work with authorities, but was confident the station hadn't broken any laws, noting that prank calls in radio have been happening "for decades."

The station has a history of controversy, including a series of "Heartless Hotline" shows in which disadvantaged people were offered a prize that could be taken away from them by listeners.

Saldanha's family asked for privacy in a brief statement issued through London police.

Flowers were left outside the hospital's nurse's apartments, with one note reading: "Dear Jacintha, our thoughts are with you and your family. From all your fellow nurses, we bless your soul. God bless."

Officials from St. James's Palace have said the duchess is not yet 12 weeks pregnant. The child would be the first for her and William.

 

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