Man loses legal bid to prevent council burying parents

THE SON of a couple whose bodies have spent almost 15 years in a mortuary has lost a legal bid to stop Edinburgh City Council arranging their funerals.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 14th July 2017, 4:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:33 am
Melvyn Marcel at Edinburgh Court of Session. Picture: Lesley Donald
Melvyn Marcel at Edinburgh Court of Session. Picture: Lesley Donald

Melvyn Marcel urged appeal judges at the Court of Session to stop Edinburgh City Council disposing of the remains of his late mum Hilda and his dad Eugenios.

Mr Marcel was appealing against a decision made by Lord Mulholland at the Edinburgh based court earlier this year.

Councillors had gained permission from the judge to arrange a burial for the couple, whose bodies were discovered in a former fishmonger’s shop in 2002.

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The council argued that they had a statutory duty to dispose of the bodies.

On Friday, Melvyn - who wants to build a fridge in his home to place the bodies until he builds a mausoleum in the property - told the court that Lord Mulholland’s decision was wrong.

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Mr Marcel - who plans to eventually take his parents bodies to be buried in the West Bank in Gaza in the Middle East - told the court that he believed his position was correct.

He told judges Lord Carloway, Lord Brodie and Lady Clark of Calton: “I’m fighting for justice but nobody’s helping me.”

It is not the first time the Marcel family have been at the centre of public attention.

In 1984, Mrs Marcel lost a claim for damages against the Royal Bank of Scotland at a Scottish court.

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

Mr Marcel, who ran the Roxburgh Hotel in Dunbar, East Lothian, became ‘so upset’ after reading the statement he began to act “irrationally” and “chased guests out of the hotel”.

The couple have been kept at Edinburgh City Council’s Cowgate morgue since police found them in the basement of a former fishmonger’s in Polwarth in 2002.

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

Police discovered Mr and Mrs Marcel’s bodies during an investigation into alleged fraud at a funeral home in West Lothian.

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

However, none of those who were allegedly involved in the fraud were charged or prosecuted for any offence.

Since then the Marcels have lain at Edinburgh City Council’s mortuary with officials unable to find them a more suitable resting place without the consent of the family.

The local authority was unable to do anything because the couple’s sons - Nigel and Melvyn - haven’t given council officials instructions on what should be done with regard to their parents.

So lawyers acting for the council went to the Court of Session in a bid to gain a legal order which would allow them to organise a burial or cremation for Mr and Mrs Marcel.

Lord Mulholland came to his decision partly because Mr Marcel did not appear in some of the dates scheduled for the action to take place.

In a written judgement, Lord Mulholland said he would have granted permission to Edinburgh City Council to bury Mr and Mrs Marcel’s bodies if the action had been defended.

He wrote: “It should be noted that the bodies of the defender’s parents have been in the city mortuary for many years, no doubt at some cost to the City of Edinburgh at a time when the public purse is under significant constraint.”

On Friday, Mr Marcel told the court that the case had caused him considerable stress and had an adverse effect on his mental health.

Mr Marcel added: “It was harming my medical condition. It was harming my anxiety. It was making me worse.

“Everything was falling on top of me.”

He also told the court that he wasn’t getting enough rest at night.

Mr Marcel added: “I only had two to three hours of sleep last night.”

Mr Marcel told the court that Lord Mulholland acted incorrectly and that his decision should be quashed.

Lawyers acting for Edinburgh City Council said that Lord Mulholland had acted correctly.

Giving the court’s decision, Lord Carloway told the court that Lord Mulholland’s decision was legally correct.

He added: “No valid defence has been established in this action.

“It is the court’s decision to adhere to the Lord Ordinary’s interlocutor.”