Death threats have been made against the Australian radio hosts involved in the royal prank call tragedy, police said yesterday, with station management reportedly moving some staff to safehouses.
The revelations came as a London inquest showed the nurse who fielded the hoax call, Jacintha Saldanha, 46, hanged herself.
The mother-of-two was found dead on Friday last week, three days after transferring the call to a colleague who divulged details about Britain’s Prince William’s pregnant wife, Catherine, who was recovery from severe morning sickness.
Saldanha was discovered in nurses’ quarters near the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London where Kate was being treated. She also had wrist injuries and left three notes.
Australian police have launched an investigation into the death threats after a letter targeting presenter Michael Christian was seized, warning him there were “bullets out there with your name on it.”
The letter was obtained by Sydney’s Daily Telegraph, which said further threats were made involving a shotgun which it said were inappropriate to print.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said staff at 2Day FM’s parent company, Southern Cross Austereo, have been receiving threats all week.
“Police are conducting an investigation into threats made against two Sydney radio presenters,” a New South Wales police spokesman said. “Detectives seized a letter which contained a number of threats. Detectives are conducting an investigation into the matter and are attempting to identify the source of the letter.”
The Telegraph said about a dozen staff at the broadcaster have been moved to hotels for their safety and up to 10 executives have been assigned bodyguards.
Southern Cross Austereo would only say that “the safety of our employees is an absolute priority.”
“We have sensible measures in place, as we always do, to ensure our people are safe,” a spokeswoman said.
Christian and fellow host Mel Greig, who have been undergoing counseling, remain off air and have not been seen in public since making tearful apologies in a television interview on Monday.
It follows the pair posing as Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II and William’s father, Prince Charles, in a hoax call to the hospital, which sparked an outpouring of global anger against them.
Senior British police officer James Harman told the inquest there were “no suspicious circumstances” surrounding Saldanha’s death.
“Jacintha Saldanha was found by a colleague and a member of security staff. Sadly she was found hanging. There were also injuries to her wrist,” he told Westminster Coroner’s Court.
Two notes were found in her room and another was among her possessions, Harman added, without revealing their contents at this preliminary stage.
Police are also looking at telephone calls and e-mails to see if they shed more light on her death, he said, with Scotland Yard expected to contact Australian police about interviewing people there.
Indian-born Saldanha’s husband, Benedict Barboza, and two teenage children did not attend the short hearing.
The radio station has pledged at least A$500,000 (US$523,600) to help the grieving family, although British lawmaker Keith Vaz, who has been acting as their spokesman, said the broadcaster had not done enough.