A funeral home has launched an enquiry and sacked two members of staff after it emerged that a body mix-up resulted in the wrong person being cremated at a recent funeral in Gateshead.
Staff at the local Co-operative Funeralcare didn’t uncover the mistake until after the ceremony had taken place at Birtley Crematorium. It was only after the family of the incorrectly cremated person held a funeral with an empty coffin that the first family were told their loved one had not been cremated as thought.
Besides the dismissal of two members of staff, it is reported that two investigations – one internal and one conducted by the council – are now underway.
A spokesperson for the Co-operative Funeralcare apologised for the distress caused, saying: “A serious breach of our strict procedures occurred and following a thorough investigation two members of staff have been dismissed.
“Once the issue came to light, we immediately notified the families concerned and apologised for any distress caused and we have liaised closely with the crematoria.”
After looking into the incident, Gateshead Council revealed that all council procedures were followed.
“We understand how very difficult this must be for the families involved,” said the director for Local Environment Services, Colin Huntington.
“We have carried out investigations and all indications are that all of our standard procedures were followed.”
One Tyneside funeral director, who didn’t wish to be named, was horrified. Speaking to the Daily Mail they commented: “It’s an absolutely diabolical mistake to make.
“Cremation is final; there is no way of undoing it. I feel for the family. In a way they have not been able to lay their loved one to rest.”