ICSM Business - Consumer News: the news of unburied bodies and fake funerals in Hull brings back memories of the pre-paid funeral plan scandal that cost customers and suppliers millions

ICSM Business - Consumer News: the news of unburied bodies and fake funerals in Hull brings back memories of the pre-paid funeral plan scandal that cost customers and suppliers millions

By Harry Mottram: Some 35 bodies have been removed by police from the Legacy Funeral Directors’ business in Hull this week (on Tuesday 24 March, 2024) unveiling one of the biggest scandals the industry has seen. Well – that is since the pre-paid funeral plan fiasco when the unregulated market saw the public pay millions of pounds into the plans that would take care of their funerals when they died – only for the numerous cowboy firms operating the scheme to go bust.

The 2022 scandal left funeral plan firm Safe Hand’s 45,000 customers out of pocket by an average of £4,000 with the overall liabilities for the firm of £75 million pounds. When the Government announced they would be regulating the industry in which people pay in advance for their funerals a string of funeral plan firms went bust as they knew they would not stand up to scrutiny. It also meant suppliers of coffins, hearses, wreaths and the countless items ordered by a funeral firm were not paid.

Now on a smaller scale in Hull the Legacy Funeral Directors’ business is creating headlines – but with a frightening macabre aspect with bodies unburied and relatives apparently attending funerals for loved ones where there was no body in the coffin. Police have arrested two people in Hull at the funeral business over a "concern for care of the deceased." The move came over concerns "in relation to the storage and management and processes of the deceased people within those premises".

The 46-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman were arrested after reports by Humberside Police of a "horrific incident", at the Legacy funeral business in the city. Police have cordoned off the three Legacy Independent Funeral Directors sites – two in Hull and one in Beverley – after they had received more than 1,000 phone calls about the business.

At a press conference on Tuesday 12 March, 2024, Assistant Chief Constable Thom McLoughlin said: "I can confirm at this stage that between Friday morning on 8th of March and the evening of Saturday 9th of March we have recovered a total of 35 deceased who have now been respectfully transported to the mortuary in Hull and formal identification procedures are now taking place. In addition, we have also recovered a quantity of what we suspect to be human ashes. We are in the process of carefully recovering all of those ashes and taking those to the mortuary."

The enquiry concerns bodies not being buried, bodies kept in freezers after the funerals may have officially taken place, human remains and ashes found at the premises and concerns over cash paid for funerals if the deceased wasn’t buried.

Why things were not run properly at the funeral parlours may be linked to financial issues. Kevin Donald for the Mail Online noted: “A funeral firm at the centre of a police probe into improper care of the dead has been on the brink of being struck off the Companies House register for two years. Legacy Independent Funeral Service's accounts are currently overdue and the company has received its fifth public warning that it faces a 'compulsory strike-off'.”

One aspect of the case is money relatives have paid for at least 35 funerals – each at an average for £4,000 – meaning some £140,000 is potentially missing from customers along with cash from pre-paid funeral plan . And that is not including the trauma and anguish that has been caused – something that is impossible to put a figure to.

Back in 2022 when the scandal of the collapsed Safe Hands funeral plan broke the Government’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published the names of other firms to avoid. The FCA named Empathy Funeral Plans UK Limited and Unique Funeral Plans amongst other firms to steer clear of. There are nearly two million people who have taken out pre-paid funeral plans paying on average around £4,000 each in the UK with an estimated 200,000 new plans sold every year.



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