Kate Middleton hoax: Indian nurse's family's fight for truth turns tough

Jacintha Saldanha family

The family of the India-born nurse, who is believed to have committed suicide after receiving a hoax call on Kate Middleton's pregnancy, is struggling with the prospect of massive legal bills to uncover the truth.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found hanging in her room at a nurses' accommodation block at the King Edward VII hospital in west London last December, days after she received a call from two Australian DJs posing as members of the royal family.

Her Bristol-based husband, Benedict Barboza, 49, son Junal, 17, and daughter Lisha, 14, have now been denied legal aid for the inquest into her death, scheduled for March 26, and say the funds required to hire a legal team are beyond their means.

Saldanha, originally from Karnataka, was the chief breadwinner of the family.

Legal aid is offered by the British state for legal advice, mediation or representation in court for someone unable to afford the costs.

For inquests, however, bereaved families are granted legal aid only in special circumstances, if there is deemed to be a wider public interest or if a relative is required to give evidence.

According to a report in the Independent, the bill for legal representation for the Saldanha family could run into thousands of pounds and without a lawyer, they fear they would struggle to question hospital chiefs on the circumstances of a qualified nurse like Saldanha being put on reception duty to answer calls from the media.

Their lawyer, John Cooper, has been working pro bono on the case so far and believes this lack of legal aid would deny the family an opportunity to be assisted in the only hearing into a "very tragic case".

"It is not just the inquest hearing they need representation for, the family feels they also need to ask if there has been adequate disclosure... the case will require some pressing questions of the hospital which the Coroner cannot ask," he said.

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