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Nurse death: No charges for DJs involved in hoax call

February 01, 2013 19:28 IST

No charges will be brought against two Australian DJs over a hoax call to a British hospital treating Prince William's wife Kate that led to the suicide of a Indian-origin nurse, the Crown Prosecution Service said on Friday.

Australian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian made the hoax call to the King Edward VII's hospital in central London, posing as the Queen and Prince of Wales when Kate was being treated for a rare form of pregnancy sickness.

Nurse Jacintha Saldanha, 46, who transferred their call to a colleague, who then described Kate's condition in detail, was found hanged a few days after the incident, sparking a backlash against the 2Day FM DJs.

The Crown Prosecution Service announced that no charges will be brought over the hoax calls.

It said there was no evidence to support a charge of manslaughter over the death of the nurse and that they would not be able to extradite the Australian DJs for data protection offences.

It said that while misguided and with tragic consequences "the telephone call was intended as a harmless prank."

Malcolm McHaffie, deputy head of special crime at the CPS, said, "As is well known, on December 4, 2012 Mel Greig and Michael Christian, both radio presenters in Australia,\ made a telephone call to the King Edward VII's Hospital in London, where the Duchess of Cambridge was receiving treatment, in which they pretended to be members of the Royal Family," he said.

"During the course of the call, private information about the Duchess's health was given, in good faith, to Ms Greig and Mr Christian and the call was later played on a radio station in Australia.

"Subsequently, Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse at the hospital who had initially taken the call but who had not herself passed on the information, tragically took her own life."

He said Scotland Yard provided the CPS with a file of evidence on December 19 and asked advice on whether a prosecution should be brought.

"Having carefully reviewed the evidence currently available, we have concluded that there is no evidence to support a charge of manslaughter," McHaffie said.

".....although there is some evidence to warrant further investigation of offences under the Data Protection Act 1998, the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and the Communications Act 2003, no further investigation is required because any potential prosecution would not be in the public interest," he said.

McHaffie said the CPS had taken into account, among other matters, that it is not possible to extradite people from Australia on the potential offences in question.

"The consequences in this case were very sad. We send our sincere condolences to Jacintha Saldanha's family."

An inquest heard that Saldanha, a mother of two, was found hanged in staff accommodation at the private King Edward VII's Hospital in central London and there were no suspicious circumstances over her death.

She also had marks on her wrist. Saldanha left three notes, one of which reportedly criticised colleagues over her treatment at the hospital.

H S Rao in London
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