Australian royal prank call DJ attends London nurse's inquest

Australian royal prank call DJ attends London nurse's inquest

LONDON - One of two Australian DJs whose prank call to a hospital caring for the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge was followed by the death by hanging of a nurse, appeared at the dead woman's inquest on Thursday to honour a pledge made to her family.

Mel Greig, sitting just a few feet away from the nurse's family at London's High Court, said in a tweet she was prepared to answer questions "on or off the stand".

Greig wiped away a tear as the nurse's husband said his wife had been her usual happy self before the incident and that her family still miss her every moment.

Indian-born Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found hanged in December 2012 in her hospital lodgings in London, days after she answered the hoax call from Greig and the other DJ, Michael Christian.

The pair had pretended to be Prince William's father, heir to the throne Prince Charles.

Saldanha put the call through to a colleague who disclosed details of Kate Middleton's condition during treatment for an extreme form of morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy, making headlines around the world.

The inquest began days after it was announced that William and Kate are expecting their second child, with the Duchess once again suffering acute morning sickness.

Last year, British prosecutors said the two Australians would face no criminal charges over the death of the nurse, a mother of two.

Greig and Christian, from radio station 2Day FM, made the prank call to London's King Edward VII hospital during a media frenzy that greeted news the Duchess was pregnant with her first child, Prince George, who was born last July.

The court heard on Thursday that the hoax call was made at about 4.30 am London time, and was followed by four more calls from the station between seeking permission to broadcast it.

Fiona Barton, representing the hospital, said the four subsequent calls had almost certainly also been answered by Saldanha.

"If she did answer those calls ... it could only have added to the stress she was under when she realised this was a prank phone call made by a radio station," Barton said.

Saldanha's husband Benedict Barboza said his wife, who was working as a night sister, had been her usual happy, bubbly self before the incident. He said she was not suffering from stress and had no history of depression.

Fighting back tears and his voice choking at times, he said he and her two children "miss her every moment and will do so for the rest of our lives."

The radio's lawyer Maya Sikand told the inquest that Greig had offered to give evidence to help explain what happened.

The DJ had earlier announced in a tweet: "I made a commitment to the Saldanha family that I would answer any questions they have, on or off the stand, I'm here to uphold that promise."

Coroner Fiona Wilcox declined the application for Greig, who flew over voluntarily to be at the inquest, to take the stand.

But Wilcox added: "I understand Miss Greig may feel she has been unfairly blamed and for this she has my sympathy."

The inquest is expected to last two days.

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