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World

Radio station to give Rs. 2.7 crores to dead nurse's family

Tuesday, 11 December 2012
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Melbourne, December 11:

An Australian radio network, whose prank call to a British hospital treating a pregnant Kate Middleton led to the death of an Indian-origin nurse, on Tuesday said it would contribute at least 500,000 dollars to a memorial fund to help the grieving family of the woman.

Southern Cross Austereo had aired the controversial prank call conducted by 2Day FM DJs with two London nurses, including Jacintha Saldanha who was later found dead under mysterious circumstances.

The radio network said it would resume the advertising and donate its profit to help Saldanha's family. It said that it would make a minimum 500,000 Australian dollar (USD 523,600) donation to the fund.

Following global condemnation after the death of Saldanah, Austereo had suspended all advertising on 2Day FM and was reportedly reviewing company polices and processes. The two hosts involved in the prank call have also been taken off air until further notice.

"All profits from advertising on 2DayFM until the end of the year will be donated to an appropriate fund that will directly benefit the family of Jacintha Saldanha," a statement from the radio network said.

"Southern Cross Austereo today reiterates its deep regret for what has taken place in these tragic and unforeseen circumstances and offers its condolences to the family of Jacintha Saldanha."

Southern Cross chief executive Rhys Holleran said the company was deeply saddened by "this tragic and unforeseen event and offers its condolences to the family of Jacintha Saldanha."

"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," he said.

Austereo said the network had tried to reach the hospital to discuss the matter but to no avail. "Company protocols were adhered to," it said.

2Day FM hosts Mel Greig and Michael Christian obtained private details of Kate's acute morning sickness by pretending to be the Queen and William's father Prince Charles.

However, a hospital spokesman was quoted as saying that following the hoax call, the radio station did not talk to anyone in the hospital's senior management or anyone at the company that handles the media inquiries.

But, Austereo said "several attempts" were made by the production team to discuss the segment with the hospital, but in vain.

In London, Labour MP Keith Vaz demanded a full inquiry into the death of the nurse, who apparently took her own life after she was duped by the prank call.

"They (the dead nurse's family) want the facts to be established so that they can effectively grieve. What is needed, clearly, is an inquiry by the hospital into how this tragic case happened," Vaz said after meeting Benedict Barboza, 49, the husband of Saldanha, along with their children Lisha, 14, and Junal, 16, at the House of Commons last evening.

The British MP said that while the focus had been on the emotional apologies of two DJs "who haven't lost a loved one," the needs of Barboza and his children had been overlooked.

"There are a loving husband and two kids here who are grieving they expected to see their mum come home on Friday (when she was found dead) and that never happened," he said. "We have the Australian DJs who are getting all this counselling, but what about the family? What about support for them?"

--PTI

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