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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 23:09 GMT 00:09 UK
Row after man misses own funeral
Falkirk Council website
The authority said the decision was made on health and safety grounds
Falkirk Council has defended a decision to alter a man's funeral arrangements because of his size.

The man, who has not been named, is understood to have been about 6ft 6in tall and to weigh about 20 stone.

As friends and relatives arrived for the service at a funeral home, council officials were interring his body at the Hills of Dunipace Cemetery.

The council said it took the step for health and safety reasons but a funeral director said it was unnecessary.

It is understood that it required eight council workers to move the coffin into the grave.

The local authority said a risk assessment of the burial had been carried out and the arrangements were made to ensure they complied with health and safety requirements.

You would expect the person that has died to be at their own funeral
Graham Alexander
Funeral director

Family members were due to arrive for a funeral service at the Alexander Easton Funeral Home in Bonnybridge at 1030 BST on Wednesday 18 July.

But council officials had arranged for the man's coffin to be placed in his grave at the same time.

Funeral director Graham Alexander said that despite being told of the changes to the service the day before, relatives were upset by the new arrangements.

He said that after the ceremony was complete, mourners followed a hearse containing flowers and no coffin to the cemetery.

The graveside service itself went ahead as normal.

'Dignified manner'

He added: "You would expect the person that has died to be at their own funeral. Everyone expects that they will participate in some way.

"We just wanted to do everything we could for the family at a difficult time and frankly I don't think the council's actions were necessary.

Despite the criticism, Falkirk Council insisted its actions were appropriate and said both family members and the funeral director had been made aware of the new arrangements in advance.

In a statement it said: "In special circumstances interments take place before the family arrive to ensure burials are carried out in a safe and dignified manner.

''Last week our decision was based on health and safety considerations and to spare the family further distress. As normal on such occasions, the funeral director was notified in advance."

In the last year, Falkirk Council has interred six people before their families arrived at the graveside for health and safety reasons.

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