Hospital Involved in Kate Middleton Prank Call Slams Radio Station After Nurse’s Death

Catherine and Prince William leave the King Edward VII hospital on December 6, 2012 in London, England.  Danny Martindale/WireImage

King Edward VII hospital — where Kate Middleton was treated earlier this week for extreme morning sickness — has written a strongly worded letter to the Australian radio station responsible for the prank call to nurse Jacintha Saldanha, who was found dead of a suspected suicide on Friday, Dec. 7.

In the letter, hospital chairman Lord Glenarthur calls the prank "foolish" and condemns the actions of the DJs involved.

"I am writing to protest in the strongest possible terms about the hoax call made from your radio station," Lord Glenarthur writes to 2DayFM. "It was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients…That the call had been pre-recorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station's management was truly appalling."

On Tuesday, Dec. 4, DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian phoned the King Edward VII hospital pretending to be Prince Charles and Queen Elizabeth in order to get information about the Duchess of Cambridge. Saldanha, who had been tending to Middleton during her stay, fell victim to the prank and passed the callers on to another employee, who then proceeded to give confidential details about the pregnant royal's condition.

Three days later, Saldanha, known to friends and colleagues as "Jess," was found dead of an apparent suicide. The 46-year-old nurse leaves behind a husband, Benedict Barboza, and two kids, ages 16 and 14.

"The immediate consequence of these premeditated and ill-considered actions was the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients," the hospital's letter continues. "The longer term consequence has been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words." 

"I appreciate that you cannot undo the damage which has been done but I would urge you to take steps to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated."

In a press conference about the hoax, station owner Rhys Holleran said the DJs involved were "completely shattered" over Saldanha's death. "These people aren't machines, they're human beings," he said. "What happened is incredibly tragic, and we're deeply saddened and incredibly affected by that…No one could have reasonably foreseen what ended up being an incredibly tragic day."

That said, the Australian Communications and Media Authority tells Us that they are discussing the matter with 2DayFM to determine whether an investigation should be launched.

Kate Middleton and Prince William, for their part, said in a statement that they did not blame the hospital for the prank and offered their condolences to Saldanha's loved ones.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," Kate and Prince William,, both 30, said in an earlier statement. "Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."

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