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UK hoax call: Evidence handed over to legal team

Last Updated: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 17:55

London: Key evidence in the death of Indian-origin nurse Jacintha Saldanha has been handed over to the legal team representing the Australian radio station behind the hoax call that apparently lead to her suicide.

Saldanha, 46, had been found hanging days after the call from 2Day FM DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian to a UK hospital treating Kate Middleton.

An inquest into her death opened last week at Westminster Coroner`s Court where Australia`s Southern Cross Media Group, which owns the radio station, was allowed a position on the legal bench when the official inquest proceedings begin on May 2.

On Friday, the court handed over copies of the three notes the mother-of-two left before her apparent suicide, a police report, toxicology results, a statement from the duty nurse who was the last person to see her alive as well as a letter from her GP, which is expected to reveal whether she was on medication at the time of her death.

Some reports suggest that the nurse had apparently been treated by a doctor in India after an incidence of self harm and may have been on anti-depressants.

Southern Cross Media`s lawyer, Maya Sikand, was granted permission to be party to the proceedings on behalf of DJs Greig and Christian, who caused international uproar following their prank call to the King Edward VII`s Hospital here last December pretending to be members of the royal family.

There is dispute between the radio station and the hospital about whether 2Day FM tried to call the nurse back to get her permission before airing the hoax call.
Coroner Fiona Wilcox, who will be heading the inquest at Council House Chambers in Marylebone on May 2-3, has warned all parties that the aim of the proceedings was to allow a cause of death to be recorded and other "adversarial issues" will not be allowed to cloud the proceedings.
Her accountant husband Benedict Barboza, 49, son Junal, 17, and daughter Lisha, 14, are being represented pro-bono by John Cooper, who has questioned why the nurse had been answering phone calls on the day and whether that was in her contract.

"They will never, ever come to terms with the death of Jacintha who they loved so much, but they hope this process will begin the healing process," said Labour MP and family spokesperson Keith Vaz, who has been supporting the Saldanhas through the crisis.

The inquest next month is expected to hear from four witnesses, including the duty nurse who saw her last and hospital chief John Lofthouse.

Saldanha was the duty nurse at the west London hospital where Prince William`s wife was being treated for severe pregnancy-related sickness.

During the hoax call, she had transferred the DJs to a colleague who described in detail the condition of the Duchess of Cambridge.

The resident of Bristol was found hanging in her room at a nurses` accommodation block at the hospital a few days later. She left three notes, one of which reportedly criticised colleagues over her treatment at the hospital.

In February, the UK`s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had decided there was no evidence to support a charge of manslaughter against the Australian DJs.


First Published: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 17:54

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