UK

Jacintha Saldanha Inquest: Prank Call Radio Station Made Four Further Calls To Kate Middleton Hospital

11/09/2014 13:00 BST | Updated 11/09/2014 15:59 BST

An Australian radio station which made a prank call to nurses treating the Duchess of Cambridge during her first pregnancy made four further calls to the hospital, an inquest heard today.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead in her nursing accommodation shortly after staff were tricked into revealing details of Kate's stay at London's King Edward VII Hospital in December 2012.

Kate was being treated for acute morning sickness at the time.

jacintha saldanha

Jacintha Saldanha was found hanged

One of the DJs who made the prank call, Mel Greig, voluntarily attended the inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Her representative told the hearing that she was prepared to give evidence if it would assist the family.

Fiona Barton QC, representing the hospital, said the additional calls were made between 5.30-6am shortly after the hoax, but their content was unknown.

She told the hearing: "If she answered any of these calls - and there were four of them - then it can only have added to the stress she was under when she realised this was a prank call by a radio station."

Barton went on: "We do not know if the calls were in fact answered. If they were answered by Jacintha Saldanha there is an issue as to what was said as that could have further confounded the stress she felt and therefore had an impact on her death some time after."

The lawyer said that if the calls were made in an attempt to obtain consent from the hospital to broadcast the prank then they "would have been taped".

She added that no follow up calls were made during working hours.

Maya Sikand, representing the radio station, told the hearing: "We cannot see now how this issue will assist the court in any way."

She accepted that the station broadcast the prank call without consent.

Greig tweeted before the hearing: "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."

She has previously spoken of the backlash she received in the months following the death of the mother of two, Including death threats.

Her lawyer, Gerwyn Samuel, told the court: "My client is in court having come to this country voluntarily in order to assist in any way she can, primarily to uphold her promise to the family of Jacintha Saldanha to answer any questions they may have."

The family of Ms Saldanha, including her widower Benedict Barboza and her two teenage children Lisha and Junal also attended the hearing, which is expected to last two days.

Dr Fiona Wilcox, Westminster Coroner, reminded the court that "no one is on trial" at the inquest.

Saldanha was the first nurse to answer a call by Australian DJs Greig and Michael Christian, who pretended to be the Queen and Prince Philip for an on-air prank.

She passed them on to a second nurse on Kate's ward, who was duped into giving out details of her medical condition.

Saldanha's body was found hanging on December 7 2012 - three days after she took the call.

Samuel told the hearing that Ms Greig should be allowed to give evidence because her knowledge of the events would assist the court.

"Melanie Greig did speak to Jacintha Saldanha that night," he said. "She spoke to her during the prank call and she can give evidence as to what she thought her demeanour was like when she was speaking to her during that call."

He added that the four additional phone calls each lasted 35, 17, 18 and 45 seconds.

Samuel said his client could give evidence about the content of these calls because she spoke to the people who made them.

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