Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Wednesday, 7 April 2010 14:20 UK

Lichfield diocese burial rule change after grave mix-up

Mrs and Mrs Best
Small markers will be placed in reserved grave plots in future

Burial rules in a West Midlands diocese have been changed after a mix-up with grave plots which led to a court ordering an exhumation.

Daniel Hastelow, 26, was murdered in Majorca and buried in 2009 in St John's churchyard, Walsall Wood, in a plot reserved for a widow, Jean Best.

Mrs Best requested an exhumation so that she could be buried beside her late husband Michael.

The church upheld her request and said it would mark reserved plots in future.

Mr Hastelow's family said they did not wish his body to be disturbed again but the chancellor for the diocese of Lichfield, Judge Marten Coates, ruled at a court in Warwickshire on Tuesday that an exhumation was "reasonable."

No single policy

Mr Hastelow had been working as a barman in Spain when he was stabbed.

His body will be reinterred elsewhere in the graveyard and the reverend responsible for the mistake has apologised for the distress caused to both families.

A spokesman for the diocese, which covers churches in part of Staffordshire, Shropshire, the Black Country and West Midlands, said that previously different rules applied to reserving grave plots, and there was no single policy either in the diocese or the Church of England as a whole.

"Permission to reserve a grave space in the future will be conditional upon the fact that the grave space will have to be marked physically in the churchyard as being reserved," he added.

He said a marker the size of a small stone or slab would be placed on reserved plots in cemeteries across the diocese of Lichfield in future.

A spokesman for the Church of England said as the church was not a single body there was no Anglican-wide policy and burials were handled by the diocesan chancellors for each area.

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