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British police pass royal hoax call file to Australian officers

A woman puts flowers on Jacintha Saldanha's coffin during her funeral inside a church in Shirva, about 52 km (32 miles) north of Mangalore D
A woman puts flowers on Jacintha Saldanha's coffin during her funeral inside a church in Shirva, about 52 km (32 miles) north of Mangalore D

LONDON (Reuters) - British police said on Wednesday they had asked Australian colleagues to consider criminal action against a Sydney radio station and its DJs who made a hoax call to a London hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife Kate.

Jacintha Saldanha, a nurse who answered the prank call from presenters Mel Greig and Michael Christian at Australian radio station 2Day FM, killed herself days after their ruse was reported across the world last December.

While the British authorities have ruled out any action over the hoax call or the death of the nurse, Australian police have been asked to look at the case themselves.

"The MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) has requested that consideration is given as to whether any offences were committed under Australian legislation," London police said in a statement.

Greig and Christian had called London's King Edward VII hospital pretending to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, William's father, during a media frenzy that greeted news Kate was pregnant with a future British king or queen.

Saldanha put them through to a colleague who, despite the DJs' unconvincing accents, disclosed details of the Duchess of Cambridge's condition during treatment for an extreme form of morning sickness in the early stages of pregnancy.

The 46-year-old nurse, a mother of two, was later found hanged in her hospital lodgings, provoking widespread anger and calls for possible criminal action.

In February, British prosecutors decided there was no evidence to support any action against the two presenters, but London police said they had now submitted a file to the Australian federal Police and New South Wales police.

British newspapers reported that Saldanha held the DJs responsible for her death in one of three notes found with her body.

An inquest into her death is scheduled to start in September and Greig has indicated that she would give evidence. According to media reports on Wednesday, her lawyer said she had begun legal action against her radio station accusing it of failing to provide a safe workplace.

In the wake of public anger at the time of Saldanha's death, Southern Cross Austereo, parent company of the radio station, promised to donate advertising revenue to a fund for Saldanha's family with a minimum contribution of A$500,000 ($457,500).

Despite the controversy, Christian was awarded the title of "Top Jock" by Southern Cross Austereo in June.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Pravin Char)

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