A local authority has been given permission to plan the funeral for a baby who died last summer.
The boy’s death was the result of brain damage. His parents, who cannot be identified, have been accused of killing him and are under investigation from the Police. They will stand trial later this year but have been released on bail.
However the couple has not taken any steps to arrange a funeral for their son and has missed a series of appointments with an undertaker.
The local authority, which also cannot be named, told the High Court that the boy’s body had been released for burial as far back as October but has remained in the mortuary ever since. The council claimed they were willing to pay for the boy’s funeral in the absence of the parents’ involvement.
Therefor they applied for permission to act under Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. This states that it is “the duty of a local authority to cause to be buried or cremated the body of any person who has died or been found dead in their area” if they believe that suitable arrangements would not otherwise be made.
Mr Justice Hayden noted that this case was “extremely rare”. In fact, “it is in my experience unprecedented” he said. The judge granted the local authority permission to make arrangements for the boy’s funeral but he urged the parents to get involved.
In 2015, a young boy’s ashes were held at a funeral parlour for over a year because the father refused to allow them to be released to the mother so she could bury them. The case received national headlines and was eventually resolved when Stowe Family Law secured the release of the ashes.