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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Man cleared of blackmail
A journalist has been cleared of threatening to blackmail a funeral firm over claims more than one person was buried in the same grave.

It was alleged that freelance reporter Mark Williams-Thomas, of Beech Lane, Hindhead, Surrey, demanded money from the chief executive of Dignity Funerals.

But a jury at Chichester Crown Court took under an hour to clear Mr Williams-Thomas.

He claimed a former Dignity employee had told him bodies had been buried "inappropriately" at a cemetery in Leatherhead, Surrey.

Internal investigation

It was alleged that Mr Williams-Thomas had arranged to meet Dignity chief executive Peter Hindley in January 2002 in order to demand money for his story.

But Mr Williams-Thomas insisted he had only wanted to discuss the allegations and to ask for an internal investigation.

In a statement outside court, the solicitor for Mr Williams-Thomas said: "My client is proud of the work that he has undertaken if it serves to uncover unscrupulous practices and opens it up to public scrutiny.

"My client has denied these allegations from day one and has remained consistent with his version of events."

A statement from Dignity Funerals said they were pleased to put the matter behind them.

Man 'blackmailed funeral firm'
02 Jun 03  |  Southern Counties

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