NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Malcolm Webster wife: Killer's grave permission needed

Claire Morris and Malcolm Webster
Image caption A jury ruled Claire Morris was murdered by Malcolm Webster

Relatives of a woman murdered by her husband have been told they can only change her headstone with his permission.

Malcolm Webster was found guilty last month of murdering Claire Morris in a staged Aberdeenshire car crash in 1994.

Her brother Peter told BBC Scotland he wanted her married name removed from the grave to help bring them closure.

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said changes needed the authority of the owner.

Webster, 52, of Guildford, Surrey, was also found guilty of trying to murder his second wife in New Zealand in 1999, after a long-running trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The 1994 fatal crash and fire, which was originally treated as an accident, was reinvestigated after concerns were raised in the wake of the second murder attempt.

New tests showed Claire Morris, 32, originally from Upchurch, Kent, had traces of drugs in her system.

Webster claimed he had swerved to avoid a motorcyclist.

The couple had only been married for eight months.

The gravestone in Tarves, Aberdeenshire, reads: "With loving thoughts of my dear wife Claire Webster".

The victim's brother told BBC Scotland: "The gravestone has some inappropriate things on it which we want changed to provide some closure.

"We were told Malcolm Webster is still the lair holder and that we'd have to go to him and ask his permission.

"The local authority said they couldn't authorise it because Webster would then potentially have his human rights infringed, and could then sue them.

"We are struggling to bring closure."

'Legal proceedings'

An Aberdeenshire Council spokesman said: "Permission to make changes to a gravestone should be sought from the owner of the lair.

Image caption Relatives of Claire Morris want her married name removed from the headstone

"Aberdeenshire Council has no authority to approve alterations to personal memorials.

"Changes made without authority from the owner could result in legal proceedings between the parties involved."

Former nurse Webster denied murdering his first wife, and attempting to kill Felicity Drumm in Auckland.

He was also found guilty of intending to bigamously marry another woman, Simone Banarjee, from Oban, Argyll, to gain access to her estate.

He is due to be sentenced on 5 July.

Scotland's longest-lasting single accused criminal trial had begun on 1 February.

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