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UK prank call: Police begin probe into nurse's death

Dec 10, 2012 08:38 AM IST India India

London: The Scotland Yard has begin its probe into the suicide case of Indian-origin nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who fell victim to a prank call made to her by an Australian radion station seeking details of condition of Prince William's wife Kate Middleton. Kate is pregnant and was admitted to King Edward VII hospital in Marylebone - where Saldanha was employed - for acute morning sickness.

Two Australian radio DJs - Mel Greig and Michael Christian - managed to impersonate Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles on Tuesday and received confidential information about the Duchess's medical condition, which was broadcast on-air. The controversial prank, however, took a dark twist three days later with the death of nurse Saldanha, a 46-year-old mother of two. She was found hanging at nurses' quarters next to the private King Edward VII hospital on Friday.

The death sparked an angry backlash against the DJs, who were taken off the air indefinitely. The Australian radio station behind the call also announced an immediate review of its broadcast practices after the debacle. Both DJs involved had apologised for the prank before Saldanha's death. Their Twitter accounts have been taken down after they were bombarded by thousands of abusive comments.

The station has a history of controversy, including airing a segment in which a 14-year-old girl revealed that she had been raped. It also ran a series of "Heartless Hotline" shows in which disadvantaged people were offered a prize that could be taken away from them by listeners. The Australian Communications and Media Authority, which regulates radio broadcasting, says it received complaints from around the world and is considering whether it should launch an investigation.

Meanwhile, the Australian Police said that the Scotland Yard has got in touch with it seeking its cooperation in the case. The Scotland Yard also wants to question the DJs, who were said to be in hiding amid global outrage. Police have not yet determined the cause of death of the nurse, but people from London to Sydney have been making the assumption that she died because of stress from the call.

The Duchess has been resting and has not been seen in public since leaving the hospital. Officials from St James's Palace said the duchess is not yet 12 weeks pregnant. The child would be the first for her and William and would be third in line to the British throne.

(With additional information from AP)