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Council burial blunders cause family ‘serious distress’

Bodies have been placed in the wrong plots following a series of council errors.

A  family has been told they are unable to exhume the body of a man buried in the wrong plot due to blunders made by Henley Town Council

Alexis Leventis purchased plot number 172 exclusively for his own burial, only to find another body had been buried in his position.

Leventis petitioned the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Oxford to remove the body of Victor Miller from his resting place at Fairmile Cemetery, reports the Henley Standard.

He was refused permission by Chancellor, the Reverend Alexander McGregor, but the town council has taken full responsibility for the failings, giving an “unreserved apology”, and will have to pay full costs.

In April 2013, the body of John Summersby was buried in plot 171 in error. He has exclusive right to the plot 170 and the location his burial was not correctly noted in the cemetery records and the error remained unknown for almost two years.

Two years later, in March 2015 Justin Morley applied for and was granted the exclusive rights to plot 171 for his father in law Victor Miller.

On April 13 2015, Mr Miller was buried at double depth to accommodate for his widow, in due course.

Following the previous mistake a further error was made when Mr Miller was actually buried in plot 172 – the plot reserved by Alexis Leventis.

Rev McGregor stated: “The exhumation of his (Mr Miller’s) body would cause serious distress to his widow and other members of his family.

“The wishes of the late Mr Leventis, while they cannot be satisfied in the terms in which he expressed them, can be approximately satisfied by the acquisition by the Leventis family of alternative plots which would enable them to be buried together in a different configuration.

“While a decision not to grant a faculty would prevent Mr Leventis directly enforcing the exclusive right of burial he had properly acquired from the town council … to grant a faculty in this case would, in my view, not be justified as an exception from the law and doctrine as to the permanence of Christian burial.


“In the present case the town council have accepted responsibility for the errors which resulted in this state of affairs. They have given an unreserved apology to all concerned.

“They have said they will make such vacant plots as there are available to the Leventis family in any configuration they wish. Although they were clearly at fault in the events that resulted in Mr Miller’s body being buried in plot number 172, they are doing all that they reasonably can to make amends now.

“The town council has accepted that it should pay the court costs and the costs (including the legal costs) of the other parties.”

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