Son goes to court to stop council burying parents

Melvyn Marcel at Edinburgh Court of Session. Picture: Lesley Donald Photography.
Melvyn Marcel at Edinburgh Court of Session. Picture: Lesley Donald Photography.

THE SON of a couple whose embalmed remains continue to lie in a mortuary is appealing a judge’s decision to allow the bodies to be buried.

Melvyn Marcel believes Lord Mulholland acted incorrectly when he gave the city council permission to arrange burials for his father Eugenios and mother Hilda.

The council had gone to the Court of Session in Edinburgh because they had not received instructions from Mr Marcel on what he wanted the local authority to do with his ­parents’ bodies.

The couple, who were found in a former fishmonger’s shop in Polwarth in 2002, have lain in a mortuary for almost 15 years. In February, Lord ­Mulholland ruled that the council had a statutory duty to dispose of the remains.

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However, Mr Marcel believes Lord Mulholland acted incorrectly. He wants to build a fridge at his Edinburgh home and then plans to construct a private mausoleum in the grounds. He eventually hopes to take his parents’ bodies to be buried in the West Bank in the Middle East.

Mr Marcel yesterday launched his appeal during a short hearing at the Court of Session.

Judge Lady Clark of Carlton told Mr Marcel the court would hear the case in July.

She added: “This case has been going on for quite a long time. The court is anxious for the case to make progress.”

The couple have been kept at the council’s Cowgate morgue since police found them in the basement of the fish shop.

Mrs Marcel died in 1987 from lung cancer whilst her husband died from prostrate cancer, aged 91, in 1994. Their bodies were embalmed and a relative regularly visited them at the premises.

Police discovered the bodies during an investigation into alleged fraud at a funeral home in West Lothian.

It was claimed that staff at a Broxburn undertakers had been paid to preserve the remains and four employees were sacked.

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However, none of those who were allegedly involved in the fraud were charged or prosecuted for any offence. The local authority was unable to do anything because the couple’s sons – Nigel and Melvyn – had not given officials instructions.

Lawyers acting for the council went to the Court of Session to gain a legal order to allow them to organise a burial or cremation for Mr and Mrs Marcel. Lord Mulholland then ruled the council had the authority to arrange burials.

On Tuesday, advocate Richard Pugh, acting for the council, said: “The council is anxious about the time that has passed here. The council wants to bring an end to this matter.”

The couple had previously come to public attention in 1984 when Mrs Marcel lost a claim for damages against the Royal Bank of Scotland at a Scottish court.

RBS had mistakenly addressed a bank statement to her husband, revealing that she had borrowed £6,000 to take a round the world trip with son Melvyn.