Two gravediggers deny burying 30 bodies in the WRONG place


Two gravediggers spoke for the first time today to deny allegations they buried 30 bodies – in the WRONG place.

Chris Gregory and Malcolm Purvis were sacked over claims they were behind a series of blunders at a cemetery.

It was alleged the experienced diggers carried out illegal burials and accepted money to bury gypsies in unregistered plots.

The investigation was sparked after ‘historical inaccuracies in burial records’ were found and the pair were arrested but no action taken.

Both men were sacked in 2012 from two cemeteries  in Berwick-upon-Tweed and Tweedmouth in Northumberland.

The pair have always denied all the allegations – including one they pushed their boss into an open grave.

They are calling on Northumberland County Council to “come clean” and publish a full report which has been delayed.

Speaking on behalf of the men, advisor Georgina Hill, said: “It’s absolutely paramount that the council release this report which will finally set out the facts about the unfounded allegations of unlawful activity in the towns cemeteries.

“Both Chris and Malcolm and their families have had to live with these allegations and they believe the council needs to come clean about why their names and stories became the currency of tabloid headlines before the council had even carried out a proper investigation into the lurid accusations.

“The council needs to do the decent thing and put the facts into the public domain. Its a question of transparency.”

Mr Gregory and Mr Purvis – who had each clocked up 22 years’ service – were responsible for booking funerals and allocating graves.

They were also grave digging when they worked for the now-defunct Berwick Borough Council.

They were arrested and suspended from work in October 2010 amid allegations they assaulted their manager and pushed her into an open grave.

But while no further action was taken due to lack of evidence the council launched disciplinary proceedings against the pair relating to the cemetery record irregularities and they were sacked from their ?20,000-a-year jobs.

At the time the council said an investigation uncovered evidence of burials in the wrong plots, memorials on the wrong graves, deeds issued incorrectly and unregistered burials.

But Mr Gregory and Mr Purvis insisted management had simply been unable to understand the complex system of book-keeping they used.

They lost an internal appeal and apparently stepped away from an industrial tribunal due to stress.

But the council maintained it had serious concerns about the poor state of the records at the cemeteries and a more detailed investigation was launched.

The council have agreed to share the report’s contents with the pair in advance of publication.

Speaking last year, landscaper Mr Gregory, said all the claims were “never proved” and said unmarked graves were simply “pauper’s graves”.

He added: “You can’t put a headstone on a pauper’s grave. I know 120 per cent that nobody was buried in the wrong grave.”

Mr Purvis, of Berwick, added: “I’m sickened by what has gone on.”


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