As a result of the findings of the ITV documentary Exposure: The British Way of Death, six people have been sacked and one has resigned from two branches of Gillman Funeral Service that were monitored by the undercover recordings.
Staff from the Tooting and Slough branches were shown disrespecting both the dead and their loved ones throughout the programme, by not refrigerating a corpse for six days, leaving it with a decomposing smell; chanting “Chelsea scum” at a corpse before sealing a coffin; calling African-Caribbean family members “animals”; and watching pornography while driving a hearse.
The sackings occurred after parent company Funeral Partners Limited (FPL) carried out an inquiry following the documentary. Chief executive Phillip Greenfield said: “Having followed due legal process, we have dismissed six people and one has resigned. We have also commissioned an independent inquiry to look into this.
“Their comments and actions disgusted not only myself and their fellow colleagues but rightly incurred the wrath of the whole community.”
He added: “I want to reiterate my heartfelt apology to everyone who has been affected by this, especially families of the deceased in our care. We are extremely sorry for any distress and hurt that has been caused.”
Greenfield also wanted to try and mend the reputation of the company within local communities, saying he wanted to “build bridges” and “rebuild the trust in [the company’s] staff”, having only acquired the branches two years ago.
The company has now added additional procedures and a new training programme after it found that staff members were not following the policies and procedures of the company.
Greenfield said: “It has become clear to us that these staff were not following our very clear policies and procedures about respecting the deceased. We will be introducing a new training programme throughout our business and improved HR procedures along with additional investment to ensure this never happens again.”