27 Jul 2008

Family's attempt to move body stopped

8:01 am on 27 July 2008

The Ministry of Health is defending its practices after granting permission to move the remains of a man, without the full consent of the dead person's family.

The ministry says it received a request in June to move the body of John Stanley, who is buried in Wellington's Whenua Tapu cemetery.

The family's application for the disinterment licence said Mr Stanley's only son was stillborn.

According to the ministry's guidelines, such applications are only granted with absolute agreement from the next of kin.

The ministry granted the licence, only to revoke it when it became clear that Mr Stanley's son Reece Stanley, was in fact alive.

The ministry says it received the information in good faith, and that it appeared plausible.

It acknowledges the distress it has caused, and says it would consider another application if all the family members agree.

The ministry says it revoked the licence after it became aware Reece Stanley, now 21, opposed the disinterment.

Reece Stanley says he wants his father to be left in peace.

Health Ministry spokesperson Graeme Gillespie says the ministry will conduct a review to see whether it should do any more in terms of due diligence.