Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Son appeals against burial of mummified bodies in Edinburgh

Melvyn Marcel Image copyright CIARAN DONNELLY

The son of a couple whose mummified bodies have been in an Edinburgh mortuary for 15 years is appealing against a judge's decision to allow the City of Edinburgh Council to bury them.

Melvyn Marcel believes Lord Mulholland acted incorrectly when he gave permission for burials to be arranged.

Councillors had gone to the Court of Session after they had not received instructions on how to proceed.

Eugenios and Hilda Marcel's bodies were found in a shop in 2002.

In February, Lord Mulholland ruled that Mr Marcel had a statutory duty to arrange funerals for his parents.

West Bank

However, Mr Marcel believes Lord Mulholland acted incorrectly.

He wants to build a fridge at his Edinburgh home then plans to build a private mausoleum in the grounds of his property.

He eventually plans to take his parents' bodies to be buried in the West Bank in the Middle East.

On Tuesday, Mr Marcel launched his appeal during a short hearing at the Court of Session.

Judge Lady Clark of Carlton told Mr Marcel the court would hear the case in July.

She added: "This case has been going on for quite a long time. The court is anxious for the case to make progress."

The couple have been kept at the City of Edinburgh Council's Cowgate morgue since police found them in the basement of a fishmonger's shop in Polwarth in 2002.

Mrs Marcel had died in 1987 from lung cancer while her husband passed away from prostate cancer aged 91 in 1994. Their bodies were embalmed and a relative regularly visited them at the premises.

Police discovered Mr and Mrs Marcel's bodies during an investigation into alleged fraud at a funeral home in West Lothian.

It was claimed that staff at the Broxburn undertakers had been paid to preserve the remains and four employees were sacked.

However, none of those who were allegedly involved in the fraud were charged or prosecuted for any offence.

Since then the Marcels have been in the mortuary with officials unable to find them a more suitable place without the consent of the family.

Chased guests

The local authority was unable to do anything because the couple's sons - Nigel and Melvyn - had not given council officials instructions on what should be done.

Lawyers acting for the council went to the Court of Session in a bid to gain a legal order which would allow them to organise a burial or cremation for Mr and Mrs Marcel.

Lord Mulholland then ruled that the council had the authority to arrange burials.

The couple had previously come to public attention in 1984 when Mrs Marcel lost a claim for damages against the Royal Bank of Scotland at a Scottish court.

The financial institution had mistakenly addressed a bank statement to her husband revealing to him that she had borrowed £6,000 to take a round-the-world trip with Melvyn, her younger son.

Nigel Marcel, who ran the Roxburgh Hotel in Dunbar, East Lothian, became "so upset" after reading the statement, "he began to act irrationally and chased guests out of the hotel".

Melvyn Marcel told the court that relationships had broken down several years earlier.

The appeal will be heard at the Court of Session on 14 July 2017.

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