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Nurse in royal hoax case died by hanging, officials say

December 13, 2012|By Henry Chu | This post has been updated. See the note below for details.
  • Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who took the prank call from two Australian radio hosts posing as members of the British royal family.
Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who took the prank call from two Australian… (Saldhana family / Associated…)

LONDON -- A nurse who took a prank call from a pair of Australian radio hosts pretending to be British royalty was found hanging in her room and left three notes behind in a suspected suicide, authorities said Thursday.

Jacintha Saldanha died Dec. 7, three days after the hoax call from disc jockeys who posed as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles in order to obtain information about the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge at the hospital where Saldanha worked. The stunt made international headlines.

Saldanha was the first person to take the phone call at King Edward VII Hospital and then patched it through to a colleague, who volunteered details about the duchess’ condition to the fake Elizabeth and Charles. The duchess, Prince William's wife, was being treated for acute morning sickness.

On Thursday, a coroner's official and a police officer told an inquest into Saldanha's death that she was found hanging from a wardrobe in her apartment near the hospital. Her wrists also bore signs of injury, they said.

Saldanha left three notes, the contents of which were not disclosed, officials said. The investigation into her death continues, but there has been no suggestion of foul play.

Authorities have not made any explicit link between the prank call and Saldanha’s death, but the British media have widely treated those events as cause and effect.

Full autopsy results are expected in a few weeks. Keith Vaz, a member of Parliament, said Saldanha's family, including her husband and two children, were still coming to terms with her death.

"They will await the outcome of the post-mortem," he said. "In the meantime, they are grieving in their homes."

The two Australian radio presenters, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, have been suspended from their show. Earlier this week, the pair gave tearful interviews to Australian television apologizing for the hoax call and saying they never expected the stunt to succeed.

[Updated 10:05 a.m. Dec. 13: On Thursday, the Australian Communications and Media Authority said it was launching a formal investigation into the prank call to determine whether the radio station, Sydney-based 2Day FM, violated conditions of its license or industry rules. The company that owns 2Day FM has also said that it would review its policies and that the practice of making prank calls would be suspended until further notice.]


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