Australian Radio Show Pledges $525,000 to Family of Nurse after Prank Call

The Australian radio broadcaster whose prank call may have prompted the suicide of one of Kate Middleton's nurses has offered to pay the family $525,000.

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REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Lisha Barboza stands with her father Ben while he holds a picture of his wife, nurse Jacintha Saldanha, as they leave the Houses of Parliament in London December 10, 2012.

The Australian radio station that made a prank phone call to the Duchess of Cambridge’s nurse has announced it will donate at least $500,000 Australian dollars ($525,494 U.S. dollars) to the family of Jacintha Saldanha, reports the BBC. Saldanha, 46, was pronounced dead on Friday, Dec. 7 after she was found unconscious near the hospital the King Edward VII’s Hospital Sister Agnes in London. On Dec. 4, the mother of two had answered a call from two Australian DJs who were impersonating members of the royal family. She subsequently put them through to another member of staff who passed on confidential details about Kate Middleton’s condition.

Southern Cross Austereo, the company that owns 2Day FM, the station that carried out the prank call, has said that all profits from advertising on the show for the rest of the year will be donated to a memorial fund for Jacintha’s family. “We hope that by contributing to a memorial fund we can help provide the Saldanha family with the support they need at this very difficult time,” said Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Southern Cross Austereo.

(MORE: Duchess Kate’s Hospital Nurse in Suspected Suicide Over Prank Call)

The two DJs who made the call, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, have said that they never expected it to go through, according to CNN. In a television interview for Australia’s A Current Affair, the two presenters explained that they could have never anticipated the outcome of the call. “There’s not a minute that goes by that we don’t think about her family and what they must be going through,” Greig told the interviewer. “The thought that we may have played a part in that is gut-wrenching.” The decision to carry out the hoax came up in a team meeting, explained Christian, and it was not the presenters’ decision as to whether the call would be used on air. The conversation was pre-recorded and put through a vetting process at Southern Cross Austereo before being broadcast.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Saldanha’s family in Karnataka, India suspect foul play in Jacintha’s death and are calling for an independent inquiry. “As Indian laws are applicable even in Britain, the family members are thinking of asking for a second postmortem under section 154 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 if they are not convinced about the exact cause of Jacintha’s death, being investigated by the Scotland Yard,” a family friend told the Times of India. British authorities have already committed to carrying out a postmortem and inquest into the nurse’s death. According to the Jacintha’s brother, her husband Benedict Barboza and their two children are waiting for the arrival of her body with other family members in the Indian city of Mangalore.

(MORE: Scrutiny Builds at Radio Station that Prank Called London Hospital)

Jacintha’s elderly mother has been under heavy sedation since she was told of her daughter’s death on Monday evening and is said to be inconsolable, according to the Times of India. Jacintha’s youngest brother Naveen has described his mother as “heartbroken.”

The autopsy is to be carried out on Tuesday. Back in Australia, Southern Cross Austero released a statement on Monday saying that Greig and Christian’s show had been terminated and that there would be a company-wide suspension of prank calls.

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