Fam­ily de­mand in-law is re­moved from plot say­ing he has no right to be there

The Sunday Post (Dundee) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rus­sell Black­stock

Acou­ple have gone to court to have the re­mains of a dis­liked in- law re­moved from their fam­ily grave.

Ian and Sheena Den­holm said Gor­don Leish­man, who was mar­ried to Ian’s sis­ter, had no right to have his ashes laid there when he died three years ago.

Ian says his sis­ter Liz­beth had a tur­bu­lent re­la­tion­ship with her hus­band and would not want him shar­ing her fi­nal rest­ing place.

The cou­ple, who live in Aus­tralia, have spent £ 20,000 on a le­gal bid to have him re­moved from the grave in East Loth­ian but Sheena added: “We have told them if they won’t help us, we will dig him up our­selves.”

My mum bought the fam­ily plot for blood rel­a­tives only

Afam­ily are fight­ing to get an in- law’s ashes re­moved from a grave claim­ing he has no right to be there.

Ian Den­holm, who lives in Aus­tralia, says he was shocked and an­gry when he re­alised the re­mains of his late sis­ter’s hus­band had been in­terred in his fam­ily plot.

Ian and his wife Sheena were stunned to find out that Gor­don Leish­man had drawn up a fu­neral plan that in­cluded be­ing laid to rest in the lair with­out con­sult­ing them.

As a re­sult, when he died three years ago, his ashes were buried in the Den­holm plot be­side his wife Liz­beth, at St Martin’s ceme­tery in Hadding­ton, East Loth­ian.

Ian in­sists the lair is re­served ex­clu­sively for di­rect fam­ily.

He said that be­fore his sis­ter’s death in 2007, she told him she did not want her hus­band to be buried next to her when he passed away be­cause of long-stand­ing mar­i­tal trou­bles.

“I couldn’ t be­lieve it when I dis­cov­ered that Gor­don is in our plot,” Ian said. “He has no right to be there. Liz­beth didn’t want him there so he has pos­si­bly done this de­lib­er­ately.

“The man wouldn’ t even or­gan­ise a proper fu­neral for my sis­ter when she died and he left it to the rest of the fam­ily in­stead.”

Re­tired fi­nance worker Ian, 73, and Sheena, 71, moved to Aus­tralia in 1982.

He said they have spent £ 20,000 in the past two years on le­gal fees and flights back to Scot­land from their home at Kingswood, Syd­ney, bat­tling to have the ashes moved else­where.

“My mum bought the fam­ily plot in 1984 and it was for blood rel­a­tives only. My par­ents are in there, along with my sis­ter and my late brother.

“I want to be buried there too when I die but not if Gor­don is still in there.”

The Den­holms – who hold the reg­is­tered cer­tifi­cate for the plot – made a twofold com­plaint to the Scot­tish Le­gal Com­plaints Com­mis­sion about Mr Leish­man’s so­lic­i­tors, Ed­in­burgh- based Gille­spie Ma­can­drew.

They al­leged that the law firm had failed to make nec­es­sary in­quiries to dis­cover who held the cer­tifi­cate in or­der to ob­tain the nec­es­sary au­thor­ity.

In March last year, the com­plaint was par­tially up­held and Gille­spie Ma­can­drew was di­rected to pay £ 200 to Ian in com­pen­sa­tion.

But an­other part of the com­plaint – which al­leged that the law firm had in­ap­pro­pri­ately al­lowed the cre­mated re­mains to be in­terred in the fam­ily plot – was not up­held.

Ian also in­sists that East Loth­ian Coun­cil should not have al­lowed his brother- in- law’s ashes to be in­terred at the St Martin’s plot with­out per­mis­sion from the fam­ily.

But the coun­cil in­sisted it acted “in ac­cor­dance with its es­tab­lished prac­tices” and said the re­mains could not be moved un­less an ap­pro­pri­ate le­gal or­der was ob­tained.

The Den­holms were dealt an­other blow last Au­gust when the Sher­iff Court in Ed­in­burgh dis­missed a move to have the re­mains shifted.

“We were told that this should in­stead be re­solved be­tween the lawyers,” Ian said.

The Den­holms also be­lieve that Mr Leish­man’s only sur­viv­ing rel­a­tive – a nephew from Por­to­bello – wants his un­cle’s ashes to stay where they are.

When con­tacted by The Sun­day Post, the rel­a­tive, who asked not to be named, de­clined to com­ment on the grave­yard dis­pute.

The Den­holms have vowed to fight on and have writ­ten to the First Min­is­ter and the Jus­tice Sec­re­tary about their plight but they were told that the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment can­not give ad­vice in in­di­vid­ual cases.

“We have told them if they won’t help us, we will dig him up our­selves,” Sheena said. “I am not even al­lowed to be buried in that plot along­side Ian, so why should my brother-in-law?”

East Loth­ian Coun­cil said: “We have been work­ing with the fam­ily on a prac­ti­cal so­lu­tion and we have as­sisted them in their pur­suit of an Ex­huma­tion Or­der, which we would be able to carry out once the le­gal­i­ties are in place.

“We would em­pha­sise, too, that the coun­cil acted ap­pro­pri­ately in the case of the orig­i­nal in­ter­ment.”

Gille­spie Ma­can­drew de­clined to com­ment.

Ian and Sheena Den­holm pic­tured at home

Ian and Sheena in Aus­tralia last week, be­low, are fight­ing to have their in-law’s ashes re­moved from the grave, above

The late Gor­don Leish­man

The late Liz­beth Leish­man

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