Why are these two Aussie hoaxers being scapegoated?
In a sensational development overnight in the case of Royal nurse Jacintha Saldanha, her husband Benedict Barboza has been described by family members as ‘furious’ about the media coverage in relation to his late wife. Former colleagues with whom she worked in Mumbai insist that she would have never have committed suicide. The opinion is shared by her former classmates, and also her family. Yet in Australia, there are calls for the two pranksters to face jail.
Friends, colleagues and managers who knew her during her college days at the Father Muller’s School of Nursing in Mangalore describe today her as bold, smart and “a very hardworking girl”. This we knew already, but the almost 100% dismissal of her death as suicide resulting from one prank call alone outside the UK is marked….and is in stark contrast to the media coverage in Britain.
“She was not the type who would chicken out of difficult situations,” says former colleague Stella M, “Never had we imagined that she could take away her own life. She was not the type of person who would commit suicide.”
“We are all shattered. I have worked with her and was her junior in college,” says an Abu Dhabi-based nurse currently working in a government hospital there, “She was a very practical person, very clever and never weak hearted. That is why her suicide is very suspicious. Friends of ours who know her grandmother in India are being told that she had never discussed anything about the hoax call in her last phone call just days before she died,” the nurse added, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Reliable reports in the Mumbai and Indian mainstream media are appearing that suggest Jacintha Saldhana’s family members in Karnataka suspect “foul play” and want an independent inquiry into the episode. Close family friend Ivan D’Souza concurred with The Slog view posted yesterday when he told IANS news that “the family is anxiously waiting for the postmortem report and the outcome of the inquest by the Scotland Yard, because they suspect foul play in her tragic death, as she was a strong woman and would not have resorted to suicide”.
Mr D’Souza, who lives at Shirva, about 60 km from Mangalore, met Barboza’s family members at Shirva along with their former local MP Vinay Kumar Sorake. Sources close to Sorake, I understand, have said that they “greatly suspect” the speculation about suicide.
The UK media set has repeated several times that Mrs Saldhana was found hanged and left a suicide note for her family. But a source writing to The Slog suggests that it wasn’t a suicide note. A person claiming to be a close family friend emailed The Slog following yesterday’s posting, to allege that Mr Barboza and his wife regarded the prank incident as “very minor”, and to disagree with threaders suggesting that a form of cultural pride had led to her suicide. The imputation was that Barboza is furious at the assumption by both hospital and media that the prank alone led to suicide. I also gather that he is not angry at the two Australian DJs now thrust into the centre of the scandal.
This is turn seems to fit the Guardian version of events as depicted there last Saturday. The paper described an interview with the dead woman’s mother-in-law Carmine Barboza, who said that neither Saldanha nor her husband, Benedict Barboza, had talked of the hoax phone call or given any clue that she had been under any pressure or strain.
“Benedict used to call every day but neither he nor Jacintha said anything about what had happened. Everything seemed normal,” she told the Guardian. Significantly absent from Keith Vaz’s statement after meeting the family at the House of Commons were (a) any absolution of the hospital’s role in Jacintha’s death and (b) any criticism of the two Disc Jockeys who made the prank call.
In many ways, the spotlight now turns on Saldhana’s widower Benedict Barboza, the contents of the note, and suspicions about events after the prank call. But the Daily Star reports this morning that the DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig could face up to five years in jail. ‘Bosses at the radio station whose prank call led to a nurse at Princess Kate’s hospital killing herself could be jailed,’ led the page one piece, ‘Lawyers in Australia said managers could be prosecuted because they did not get the hospital’s permission to air the recorded conversation. They face a fine of up to £30,000 or even five years in prison if convicted.’
One wonders a little bit if some of those involved in this case have been reading the advice of Aussie-loving expat Lord McAlpine about how to manipulate and distract the media. I’m becoming increasingly suspicious at the way these two Aussies are being turned into global patsies here. I must also say that, when this all comes out of the wash, if I were Christian and Greig, I’d chuck a gigantic law suit The Star’s way for that brazen ‘led to a nurse at Princess Kate’s hospital killing herself’ libel in the paragraph above.