Royal phone hoax: £320k donation for family of tragic nurse

Jacintha Saldanha's family arrive at the Houses of Parliament on Monday. Picture: Getty
Jacintha Saldanha's family arrive at the Houses of Parliament on Monday. Picture: Getty
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The RADIO station whose disc jockeys fooled a nurse with a prank call allegedly precipitating her suicide is to set up a memorial fund for her family.

Jacintha Saldanha’s husband and teenage children will get at least £320,000 from the advertising profits of Australian broadcaster 2Day FM, whose presenters were behind the hoax.

The nurse transferred the DJs, believing they were the Queen and Prince of Wales, to a colleague who described in detail the condition of the Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, during her treatment for severe pregnancy sickness last Tuesday.

Ms Saldanha, 46, from Bristol, would have been devastated by her unwitting role in the scam, her brother has said. She was found dead three days later in a block of nurses’ flats close to the King Edward VII’s Hospital where she worked.

A post-mortem examination was carried out yesterday.

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the parent company of 2Day FM, announced it was resuming advertising from tomorrow, and that until the end of the year all profits would be donated to a fund directly benefiting Ms Saldanha’s family. The company said a minimum contribution of about £320,000 would be made.

Rhys Holleran, SCA chief executive, said: “We are very sorry for what has happened. It is a terrible tragedy and our thoughts continue to be with the family.

“We hope that, by contributing to a memorial fund, we can help to provide the Saldanha family with the support they need at this very difficult time.

“The company reiterates that it is deeply saddened by this tragic and unforeseen event and offers its condolences to the family of Jacintha Saldanha.”

SCA has also cancelled the station’s Christmas party, planned for this week.

Instead, money which would have been spent on the party will go to charity, said a spokeswoman.

Lord Glenarthur, chairman of King Edward VII’s Hospital, welcomed Southern Cross Austereo’s decision to make a sizeable donation to Ms Saldanha’s family. He said: “I have read that Southern Cross media group have pledged to make a minimum donation of A$500,000 [£326,643] to an appropriate fund. We would certainly welcome such a donation to [our own] Jacintha Saldanha Memorial Fund.”

He added that the hospital’s fund, also established for the nurse’s family, had received donations from around the world.

Her husband, Benedict Barboza, daughter Lisha, 14, and son Junal, 16, made an emotional appearance outside parliament on Monday night after meeting Labour MP Keith Vaz.

Mr Vaz is campaigning on behalf of the family and called on the hospital to hold a full inquiry and offer further support to Mr Barboza and his children.

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday said it was right for Ms Saldanha’s family to be given all the information possible about her death. Giving evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee, he was pressed on this by Mr Vaz.

The PM replied: “Of course. It is a dreadful case and an absolute tragedy for the family. When you read of how hard she had worked across her life and all the things she had done and how much she cared about health and looking after people.

“This is just a terrible, terrible case and, as I said yesterday, I am sure there are lessons to learn.

“When any of these things happen, having the full facts of the case doesn’t bring anybody back, but it does, I think, help people come to terms with what has happened.

“So, in so far as that is possible, I would support that.”

The death is not being treated as suspicious.