Families angered by further cemetery mix-up

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ATTEMPTS to resolve a body mix-up scandal have been thrown into disarray over council plans to re-inter a woman’s remains in a new grave.

A plot in Hull’s Northern Cemetery will be exhumed on Tuesday to see if it contains the remains of Grace Kamara, 77, a Nigerian woman who is thought to have been buried by mistake in the grave of black former paratrooper Christopher Alder, 37.

Mr Alder’s body was discovered in a mortuary last November – 11 years after his supposed funeral – when Mrs Kamara’s family arrived in Hull to prepare her body for burial.

They were told it could not be found and it emerged that the body being held was Mr Alder’s, which has since been confirmed by DNA tests.

However, the exhumation licence granted by the Ministry of Justice states that once attempts to identify the remains in Northern Cemetery have been made they are to be re-interred in the city’s Eastern Cemetery – against the wishes of both Mrs Kamara’s family and Mr Alder’s sister Janet, who owns the plot in Northern Cemetery.

Christine Omoregie, the Kamara family’s representative in Hull, said she had not been consulted before the application for the exhumation licence was made by Hull City Council.

The licence states: “...if the remains are established to be of Grace Kamara then they shall, without undue delay, be re-interred in Eastern Cemetery, Hull.

“If the remains are not established to be that of Grace Kamara, Hull City Council will attempt to identify the remains and if the Council are unable to identify the remains they shall, without undue delay, be re-interred in Eastern Cemetery, Hull.”

The council now says it will do its best to accommodate both families’ wishes, but it is understood it would need a new or amended licence to re-inter the remains in the plot in Northern Cemetery.

But Mrs Omoregie said she had already made her wishes clear to the council. She said: “They are trying to undermine Janet and myself. I have told Hull City Council if they undermine my request they are abusing their power. It’s not right.”

Both Mrs Omoregie and Miss Alder say it is inconceivable that Mrs Kamara’s remains could be buried anywhere else as part of her will have decomposed in the grave since the burial in November 2000.

Mrs Omoregie said: “Half her body is in that grave, how can they move it to another place?”

Miss Alder said she supported Mrs Omoregie’s wishes to re-inter Mrs Kamara in the same plot, but it was up to the council to resolve the issue.

She said: “They are trying to take away any responsibility they have and put the onus on me.

“All I’m doing is agreeing Grace should go back with her remains. To put Grace’s bones elsewhere when she has decomposed in the grave must be against the law. It’s up to them to sort this mess out, not me.”

Mr Alder was finally laid to rest in a separate plot in Northern Cemetery on February 9.

The council, which was in charge of the mortuary when the wrong body was released in 2000, said in a statement: “The Council understands that the families are in discussion about their wishes regarding the burials of Christopher and Grace.

“This is a matter for the families and as soon as we are informed of their wishes, we will do our utmost to make the required arrangements in accordance with those wishes.”

South Yorkshire Police are conducting a criminal inquiry into the mix-up.

Mrs Omoregie said she had asked for a meeting with officers on Monday to find out what the terms of the investigation were.

Mr Alder, who served in the Falklands and was decorated for his service in Northern Ireland, choked to death on the floor of a Hull police station in 1998.

After being injured in an assault he had been arrested after becoming aggressive in hospital.

A coroner’s jury found he was unlawfully killed, and in 2002 five Humberside Police officers went on trial accused of manslaughter and misconduct in public office, but were cleared on the orders of the judge.