Police in London set to speak to radio presenters over Kate prank call that led to death of nurse

 

Police in London have contacted their Australian counterparts about speaking with the two radio presenters who made a prank phone call that led to the death of a nurse.

Crisis talks are under way at the company that owns 2Day FM, whose presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian duped Jacintha Saldanha into helping reveal details about the Duchess of Cambridge's health.

Ms Saldanha, 46, apparently took her own life following the incident.

Scotland Yard is understood to have asked police in Sydney for assistance, with a view to interviewing the two DJs ahead of an inquest into Ms Saldanha's death.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: "Officers have been in contact with Australian authorities."

Nick Kaldas, deputy commissioner for New South Wales Police, confirmed the request, telling Sky: "It hasn't been indicated to us that an offence has occurred and they have not actually asked for anything yet.

"They've simply touched base, let us know of their interest and they will get back to us if they actually want something done. Nothing has been requested of us yet."

A New South Wales Police spokesman said: "As our policing colleagues in London continue to examine events leading up to the death of London nurse Jacintha Saldanha overnight, we will be providing them with whatever assistance is required."

A post-mortem examination is due to be held this week and an inquest opened and adjourned at Westminster Coroner's Court, Scotland Yard said. The death is not being treated as suspicious.

Southern Cross Austereo, 2Day FM's parent company, is holding an emergency board meeting to consider what action it should take over the prank phone call, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Chairman Max Moore-Wilton said the board is considering its response to a letter from Lord Glenarthur, chairman of the Edward VII's hospital, in which he called for the "truly appalling" broadcast to "never be repeated".

Mr Moore-Wilton said: "We're considering that letter and I'll be responding to them after I discuss it with my board colleagues later today."

Ms Greig and Mr Christian have so far remained tight-lipped after the incident, and are receiving "intensive psychological counselling" to deal with the tragedy, the Australian said.

The pair are on indefinite leave from the radio station, and have been bombarded with abusive and threatening messages on social media websites.

A spokeswoman for Austereo told the Australian the pair would be speaking with the media, but when would depend on their state of mind, which was described as "fragile".

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which regulates radio broadcasting, confirmed it had received complaints from all around the world, and said it was considering whether it should launch an investigation into whether the presenters breached the Commercial Radio Code of Practice.

Sources told the Press Association and investigation was "likely" to be opened into the broadcast.

In his letter to Austereo Lord Glenarthur yesterday condemned the prank phone, saying he wanted to "protest" against the "extremely foolish" gag.

Calling Ms Saldanha's death "tragic beyond words", he said the immediate consequence of the station's "premeditated and ill-considered actions" led to the "humiliation" of Ms Saldanha and another nurse.

He wrote: "I appreciate that you cannot undo the damage which has been done but I would urge you to take steps to ensure that such an incident could never be repeated."

Ms Saldanha was pronounced dead on Friday morning at staff accommodation close to the hospital.

She had answered the presenters' call and, believing they were members of the Royal Family, put them through to another nurse who described Kate's condition in detail.

The nurse's devastated family were being comforted by relatives and friends at their home near Bristol.

A friend at the address said Ms Saldanha's partner Benedict Barboza, 49, and their teenage son and daughter, aged 14 and 16, were "very, very shocked and unhappy at the tragedy".

In a statement last night, Ms Saldanha's family said they were "deeply saddened" by the death and asked for privacy.

They said: "We as a family are deeply saddened by the loss of our beloved Jacintha. We would ask that the media respect our privacy at this difficult time."

Ms Saldanha is originally from Mangalore in south-west India, the Sunday Telegraph said, where her family spoke of their heartache.

Her mother-in-law, Carmine Barboza, told the paper of the moment she heard of Ms Saldanha's death from her son.

She told the newspaper: "He was crying and couldn't speak much. We got a call last night from Benedict informing us that Jacintha had died.

"More than that, we do not know, about what actually happened. She is dead, that's all. Jacintha was a very caring woman. She used to call us every Sunday without fail. We just cannot believe what has happened.

"We don't know whether we'll be able to bring her dead body back to India but we desperately hope so."

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have sent their condolences to Ms Saldanha's family.

In a statement on Friday night, St James's Palace said: "The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha.

"Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII's Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time."

The spokesman stressed that they had not complained to the hospital about the hoax call, saying: "On the contrary, we offered our full and heartfelt support to the nurses involved and hospital staff at all times."

PA

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