World News – British newspapers reeled in horror on Saturday at the news that a nurse who took a prank phone call at the hospital where Prince William’s wife was being treated had been found dead.
All the national papers had the story on their front page and several carried angry Internet outbursts directed at the two Australian radio presenters who rang up the London hospital impersonating members of the royal family.
Nurse Jacintha Saldanha answered the phone when presenters from Sydney’s 2Day FM called, before passing it onto a colleague who divulged details of Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge’s acute morning sickness.
She was found dead on Friday.
In its editorial, Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper The Sun said the death was “heartbreaking and bewildering”, and a “needless tragedy”, asking how a foolish prank could end in an apparent suicide.
“No doubt she was distraught at unwittingly embarrassing the royals and her employers,” it said.
“We can only guess at the inner torment of Jacintha, who after years of loyal professionalism suddenly found herself in trouble for something that was not her fault.”
The Independent’s editor Chris Blackhurst wrote that the normal chatter and laughter of the newsroom ebbed away as news of Saldanha’s death came through Friday.
“It was an awful moment, one in which the at-times detached cynicism of some sections of the media — so central to Lord Justice Leveson’s inquiry — was laid bare,” he said, referring to the recent report into British press ethics.
“In fact, even some of our more hard-bitten reporters were desperately saddened.
“Has anyone from The Independent ever posed as someone else to obtain information to pursue a story? Yes, we have. But we would maintain we were acting in the public interest — not to provide mere comic entertainment.
“People play jokes all the time, in all walks of life. Sometimes they backfire. Now and again, the consequences are out of all proportion to the original jape. Likewise, accidents occur every day because of an unforeseen danger.
“I can’t excuse them (the presenters). But a little perspective is required.” (Reuters)