India-born nurse's royal hoax inquest opens in UK

An inquest into the death of India-born UK nurse Jacintha Saldanha, found hanged after she took a hoax call at a hospital in London about Kate Middleton's first pregnancy, opened here today.

PTI| Updated: Sep 11, 2014, 17:15 PM IST

London: An inquest into the death of India-born UK nurse Jacintha Saldanha, found hanged after she took a hoax call at a hospital in London about Kate Middleton's first pregnancy, opened here today.

The 46-year-old was found in the nurses' quarters of the King Edward VII hospital in London days after the prank phone call from two Australian radio presenters posing as Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles.

Saldanha had put the call through to the ward where the Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, pregnant with Prince George, was staying and another nurse there had revealed confidential medical details.

Westminster Coroners' Court is sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the inquest, which is expected to last two days.

"It has been a long road for the family and I deeply admire the patience, humility and dignity they have shown throughout this traumatic time. It is right that they finally gain closure," said senior Indian-origin Labour MP Keith Vaz, who is acting as the family's spokesperson.

The inquest, which has been delayed by almost a year, comes soon after the announcement that Kate is pregnant again and suffering acute morning sickness just as on December 4, 2012, when Saldanha took the prank call.

"Jacintha's family were delighted to hear the news that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting her second child and want to pass on their heartfelt congratulations to the couple," Vaz added on behalf of Jacintha's husband Benedict Barboza and children Junal and Lisha Saldanha.

At a preliminary hearing, a senior police officer said there were no suspicious circumstances.

The hearing was told there were injuries to Saldanha's wrist, and two notes were found among her possessions.

It is understood that nine witnesses will give evidence during the inquest and while the two Australian DJs - Michael Christian and Mel Greig - will not be giving evidence, the Austereo Radio Network has submitted evidence to the inquest.

Other witnesses would include the colleague and security officer who found Saldanha's body as well as Former King Edward VII hospital chief executive John Lofthouse.

At an earlier hearing the coroner, Fiona Wilcox, said the nurse's state of mind was a "very important issue".

Her family are keen to establish whether or not she was suitably trained to deal with the difficulties she faced.

In February last year, the UK's Crown Prosecution Service said it would not bring charges against the two DJs, Christian and Greig, saying there was no evidence to support a manslaughter case.