Judge Rules Council Can Bury Embalmed Bodies Of Couple Kept By Son


The embalmed bodies of a couple who died more than two decades ago are to be buried after their son lost a legal battle with the council.

Lord Mulholland granted Edinburgh City Council the authority to bury Eugenois and Hilda Marcel after their son made no arrangements to do so, keeping their remains at a property in Edinburgh for several years.

Hilda Marcel died on February 10, 1987 aged 68, while Eugenois died on August 31, 1994 aged 91.

In May 2002, police investigating another matter discovered that the couple had not been buried but were stored in their son Melvyn's premises at Gilmour Place.

The embalmed bodies were moved from there to the city mortuary, where they are currently stored.

Prosecutors were told of the discoveries but no proceedings were brought and the procurator fiscal said the bodies could be released for burial or cremation.

Edinburgh City Council has been discussing the burial of the couple with Mr Marcel since 2012, but applied for permission to bury them after he made no arrangements to do so.

In his written judgment, Lord Mulholland said the council understood Mr Marcel planned to build a refrigerated unit in his residential property within which the bodies would be stored.

This would be a temporary measure until an above-ground vault was built.

It is understood Mr Marcel's ultimate intention was to have the bodies of his parents transferred to the West Bank in the Middle East for burial.

Giving his judgment at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Friday, Lord Mulholland said the city council has a ''statutory duty'' to dispose of the remains.

He pointed out that continuations of the case during the legal proceedings had given Mr Marcel time to make his own arrangements for burial of his parents, but he had not done so.

He wrote: ''He has not taken up this opportunity and vague suggestions during his submissions (and in the pleadings and correspondence) that he intended to apply for planning permission for a mausoleum to house his parents' bodies did not seem to me to be realistic or anything more than a vague statement of intent.

''He has had ample opportunity to make arrangements to dispose of his parents' bodies in accordance with his and his family's wishes.

''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.''

Lord Mulholland said it would be helpful for the city council to ''give due consideration to any realistic requests made by the defender and his family as to the arrangements for disposal of his parents' bodies'' and said it is important that the local authority ''undertake their statutory duties sensitively and with respect, as I am sure they will do''.

A council spokesman said: ''We acknowledge the Court of Session's decision and will take the necessary and appropriate steps to bury the bodies.''