Man’s distress after grave error

Alan Morgan at his father's grave in Oakham cemetery, which was wrongly labelled. Photo: MSMP-19-06-15-am002 EMN-150718-152020001
Alan Morgan at his father's grave in Oakham cemetery, which was wrongly labelled. Photo: MSMP-19-06-15-am002 EMN-150718-152020001

A man who was given the wrong location of his father’s grave has demanded compensation for the distress he says he has suffered.

Patrick Morgan was buried in the cemetery in Kilburn Road, Oakham, on June 20, 1974, after dying at Ashwell Prison.

More than 40 years later his son Alan, from Milton Keynes, decided to visit the grave to pay his respects for the first time.

Alan was given the location of the unmarked grave by Rutland County Council, visited in September 2009 and returned home. He wrote a letter of thanks to the council, and received a reply to say there were some discrepancies in the cemetery records.

“That set alarm bells ringing,” said Mr Morgan.

He involved the Local Government Ombudsman, which advised the council to find Patrick Morgan’s coffin. In Mr Morgan’s presence the nameplates of six coffins in unmarked graves going back to the 1970s were uncovered on two separate days. And on the second day his father’s grave was found, away from its location on the cemetery plan.

Mr Morgan said the situation had caused him and has family distress. “I’ve not been able to grieve for my father,” he added. “People have been buried in the wrong graves.”

Mr Morgan complained again to the Ombudsman about the council’s conduct, but this was not upheld. The council has apologised but Mr Morgan wants compensation for the distress he says he and his family have been through.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” he said.

A council spokesman said the situation had arisen when conflicting information was entered into official records when Mr Morgan’s father was buried in 1974.

The spokesman added: “While this mistake was made more than 40 years ago, Rutland County Council has apologised to Mr Morgan and his family for any distress they have experienced. The council worked closely with the Local Government Ombudsman and Mr Morgan to resolve this issue when it came to light in 2009 and no other cases like this have been recorded in the county.

“While we have offered to repay Mr Morgan for any expenses incurred when visiting Rutland to locate his father, the Ombudsman has made clear that compensation is not warranted.”