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Royal radio prank culminates in apparent suicide of nurse

by AirTalk®

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A police officer stands outside the King Edward VII hospital in central London on December 7, 2012 after nurse Jacintha Saldanha was found dead at a property close by. A nurse at the hospital which treated Prince William's pregnant wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, was found dead on December 7, days after being duped by a hoax call from an Australian radio station, the hospital said. Police said they were treating the death, which happened at a property near the hospital, as unexplained. CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images

A nurse at London’s King Edward VII Hospital has been found dead today of an apparent suicide. Jacintha Saldanha was unwittingly involved in a phone prank carried out by Australian radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian. The DJs pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles calling to check up on the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, who was hospitalized for acute morning sickness.

Saldanha, a duty nurse, answered the initial call from the radio hosts in the absence of a receptionist and forwarded their call to another nurse attending to the pregnant Duchess – this second nurse divulged several details of Middleton’s ailments on the air, much to the dismay of the hospital and the royal family. Greig and Christian have expressed remorse over the prank, and both the DJs and the royal family have publicly announced their sadness over Saldanha’s death.

This is not the first unsettling incident for the prank DJs, who were given a five year license probation in 2009 after a phony lie detector prank resulted in a 14-year-old girl admitting on live radio that she was raped. Should radio hosts and celebrity pranksters be held morally culpable for any ensuing chaos? If Greig and Christian work in the U.S., would their licenses be revoked? How much responsibility do public figures have to be sensitive to their audience?


Clare Burton, News Correspondent, BBC News

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