An undated family photograph of Jacintha Saldanha, with her husband Benedict Barboza and son Junal. (AFP)
London, Dec. 9: Scotland Yard have been in touch with police in Australia almost certainly with a view to interviewing the two pranksters whose hoax call appears to have triggered the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, the 46-year-old Mangalore-origin nurse in London.
A spokesperson for Metropolitan Police said: “Officers have been in contact with Australian authorities.”
Jacintha’s husband, Benedict Barboza, 49, and two teenage children — son Junal, 16, and daughter Lisha, 14 — who have been grieving at their family home in Bristol, have so far not been allowed to see her body, it is understood.
It is assumed Jacintha took her own life — that is apparent from Scotland Yard’s comment that her death is “not suspicious”.
The formalities will have to be gone through, with a post-mortem due to be held this week. An inquest will also be opened and adjourned.
Jacintha put through the hoax call to a second as yet unnamed nurse who provided details of the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge who was in her ward after being admitted with severe morning sickness.
Everyone is assuming that Jacintha took her own life because of the humiliation heaped on her by the two presenters, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, who recorded all the exchanges and introduced them on air.
Nick Kaldas, deputy commissioner for New South Wales Police, confirmed Scotland Yard’s request, telling Sky TV in Britain: “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.”
Mental health experts have warned that the presenters could themselves become suicide risks and urged that they receive counselling and community support.
The presenters are being backed by their employers who have warned there could be another suicide if the campaign of vilification against them does not end.
The pair have so far remained tight-lipped after the incident, and are receiving “intensive psychological counselling” to deal with the tragedy, it was reported.
A spokesperson for Austereo, owners of 2Day FM, said the pair would be speaking with the media, but when would depend on their state of mind, which was described as “fragile”.
Rhys Holleran, chief executive of Austereo, said there were real fears for the pair following the tragedy and the backlash.
“Everyone who knows Mel fears for her mental state,” the Sunday Times, London, reported him as saying.
“There are very real fears she could self-harm, and nobody wants that.”
There is a war by letter between the two sides. Lord Glenarthur, chairman of King Edward VII’s Hospital, has protested, and Max Moore-Wilton, chairman of Southern Cross Austereo, has responded.
In his letter, Lord Glenarthur said: “Then to discover thatů the call had been pre-recorded and the decision to transmit approved by your station’s management, was ‘truly appalling’.”
After voicing expressions of regret for Jacintha’s death, Moore-Wilton hit back: “It is too early to know the full details leading to this tragic event and we are anxious to review the results of any investigation that may be made available to us or made public. We can assure you that we will fully co-operate with all investigations. As we have said in our own statements on the matter, the outcome was “unforeseeable” and very regrettable. I can assure you we are taking immediate action and reviewing the broadcast processes involved.”
Prince William, who attended a charity event in London last night in aid of the homeless, observed dryly that the expression “morning sickness” should be changed to “morning and all-night sickness”.