Prank call station plans nurse fund

Benedict Barboza pictured with daughter Lisha, 14, and son Junal, 16, and Keith Vaz MP, left

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge leave King Edward VII hospital, where she was treated for severe morning sickness

First published in National News © by

The Australian radio station whose DJs duped a nurse with a prank call only for the woman to apparently take her own life is to set up a memorial fund for her family.

Jacintha Saldanha's husband and teenage children will receive at least £320,000 in donations from the advertising profits of Sydney broadcaster 2Day FM, whose presenters were behind the hoax call.

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 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 is being carried out later on Tuesday.

Her husband, Benedict Barboza, daughter Lisha, 14, and son Junal, 16, made an emotional appearance outside Parliament after meeting Labour MP Keith Vaz. The politician 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.

The hospital defended its position, saying it had been in contact with Mr Barboza to offer him help and had also established its own Jacintha Saldanha Memorial Fund.

Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), the parent company of 2Day FM, announced that it was resuming advertising from Thursday, 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 around £320,000 would be made.

Rhys Holleran, SCA's 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 today 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 later this week, as it would be "inappropriate" to go ahead with the event for Sydney staff, said a spokeswoman. Instead, money which would have been spent on the party will go to charity, she added.

Lord Glenarthur, chairman of the King Edward VII's Hospital, welcomed SCA's decision to make a sizeable donation to the family of Ms Saldanha. He said: "I have today read that Southern Cross media group have pledged to make a minimum donation of 500,000 Australian dollars (£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 many donations from around the world.

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