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Indian-origin nurse 'was found hanging’; autopsy results to be revealed today

Source : AP
Last Updated: Thu, Dec 13, 2012 10:15 hrs
Royal hoax goes sour: Family members mourn the death of nurse

London: The result of an autopsy on the nurse involved in a prank call for information about the former Kate Middleton's hospital stay will be revealed Thursday, London police said.

Scotland Yard said on Wednesday the cause of Jacintha Saldanha's death will not be released until a Westminster Coroner's Court hearing.

Saldanha answered the phone when two Australian disc jockeys rang up the hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge was being treated for severe morning sickness last week. The DJs, who were impersonating Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, later broadcast the call, which included confidential details about the duchess' condition.



Saldanha was found dead three days later. Although police have made no connection between Saldanha's death and the prank call, people from London to Sydney have assumed she died because of stress from the call.

Australia's media watchdog, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, said on Thursday it was launching an official investigation into whether the radio station, 2DayFM, breached its broadcasting license conditions and the industry code of practice.

The ACMA said in a statement it would examine whether 2DayFM violated standards of privacy and decency or broke rules of consent. The Commercial Radio Code of Practice prohibits the broadcast of recorded private conversations without participants' permission.

Stations found to have violated the code are usually given a warning or told to train staff in proper procedures. In extreme cases, a station could lose its license.

Southern Cross Austereo, the station's parent company, has said it will cooperate with any investigation.

Legal experts say station's hoax call may be illegal

The Australian radio station behind a hoax phone call to the London hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was being treated could face criminal charges for airing the conversation, legal experts said on Tuesday.

The question is not about the death of the nurse due to the call but it's about whether a private conversation was broadcast without the permission of the participants.

Violators could be sentenced to prison, but it's unclear who at radio station 2DayFM or its parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, made the decision to air the call. The DJs have said executives above them made the decision, but a former 2DayFM host who orchestrated many pranks for the station said DJs were always involved in such decisions while she was there.

Southern Cross Austereo has said the station had tried five times to contact the hospital, but privacy law expert Barbara McDonald said that could prove to be an inadequate defense.

"Seems to me that saying, 'We tried to call,' shows that they knew they should, and they've made a decision to go ahead knowing that they have not got permission," said McDonald, a law professor at the University of Sydney. "I don't know whether it makes the situation better, or worse."

The New South Wales state Surveillance Devices Act prohibits the broadcast of recorded private conversations without participants' permission, with violations punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to 55,000 Australian dollars ($58,000).

McDonald said the Commercial Radio Code of Practice has a similar ban, but she added that even if Australia's media watchdog found violations, the most extreme punishment — loss of license — is almost unheard of.

Australian authorities have said little about any possible investigation. State police have said only that they've been in contact with their London counterparts and are ready to assist them in any British investigation.

Radio hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian called London's King Edward VII Hospital last week. Pretending to be Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, they asked for word on the Duchess of Cambridge, who had been suffering from severe morning sickness. Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who answered the phone, put them through to the ward, and the duo received confidential information on the duchess' condition that was later aired.

‘Jacintha was found hanging’

A coroner's officer says Saldanha was found hanging by the neck from a scarf on a wardrobe door in her room.

Lynda Martindill says Saldanha was found by a colleague and a member of the security staff at London's King Edward VII hospital on Friday.

A police officer told a coroner's inquest Thursday that three notes were found in the room. There were no suspicious circumstances.

Coroner Fiona Wilcox opened and adjourned the inquest until March 26.

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