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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 17:14 GMT 18:14 UK
Gruesome exhibit homeless
Gunther Von Hagens
The professor claims to be democratising medicine
A controversial professor hoping to exhibit the preserved body of an infant during this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe is struggling to find a venue for his macabre display.

Gunther von Hagens sparked outrage last year when he carried out the first public post-mortem in the UK since the 1830s at a gallery in London.

He claims he turns human bodies into works of sculpture by injecting them with plastic to preserve them.

But despite approaching many city centre venues, Prof von Hagens has yet to secure premises for his event which would feature the display of three skinless bodies - including that of a young child.

The event is likely to cause outrage in the city and Edinburgh University are among those who have already turned the professor away.

The exhibition is scheduled to begin on Thursday, 31 July and organisers said they remain confident a venue will be found in time.

It's sick and macabre
Lydia Reid

Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens has been suggested as a possible base, however officials for Edinburgh City Council confirmed they have yet to grant a licensing application for the event, which would be required before it could go ahead.

Councillors are expected to make a decision on Mr von Hagens request to display the bodies on Tuesday.

As the event involves human remains, Lothian and Borders Police are offering council officials advice during the decision-making process.

A force spokesman said "any application would be judged on its own individual merits."

But he also said that any event that took place without the required licence, and that caused the public "fear and alarm", may be considered a breach of the peace.

Hunt for donors

Lydia Reid, of support group Justice for Innocents - which helps parents whose children have died - said the concept was "disgusting".

She added: "It's sick and macabre. If one of our parents in the organisation were walking past this, I have no doubt that they would be, not only shocked, but frightened."

Prof von Hagens is also appearing in a fringe musical - a satire about the quest for immortality.

After the festival, he is expected to embark on a tour of UK cities during which he hopes to persuade people to sign up to be body donors for a new project.

It is understood that he is attempting to display in a preserved corpse how the human body could be improved with extra organs.

The professor claims to be democratising medicine by giving lay people the chance to see things that only doctors and medical researchers previously could.

The BBC's Raymond Buchanan
"It's an exhibition of death"

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