A FUNERAL director has hit out at her MP after he raised in Parliament an ‘awful accident’ that occurred at a burial.

Jake Berry, MP for Rossendale and Darwen, shared details in the House of Commons last week of a funeral that took place in January at Darwen Cemetery.

He told the House how a family witnessed their loved ones’ remains exposed after straps used to lower the coffin into the grave snapped.

Speaking at a debate about the regulation of funeral services, Mr Berry spoke of the ‘exceptionally traumatic’ events and was alarmed that there is no legal requirements for funeral directors to be regulated in any way.

He said: “The incident was caused by the snapping of the straps used to lower the coffin into the grave. After the straps snapped at the mouth of the grave, the coffin fell more than eight feet into the open grave, resulting in the exposure of the remains of the deceased.

“Understandably, many family members and other mourners immediately left the funeral.

“The family had been led to believe by KC Funeral Services that enough members of staff would be in attendance to assist at the graveside, but the family did not believe that was the case. They felt, understandably, very distressed about the situation.”

However, KC Funeral Services dispute some of the content of Mr Berry’s speech and take issue with the way in which he dealt with the matter after being contacted by the upset family. Funeral directors are not required by law to hold any qualifications or be members of associations or schemes – avoided usually due to the burdening cost.

Emma Childerley, owner of KC, said: “Out of respect for the family I will not go into specific details of the incident. However, I do confirm that an incident did occur during a funeral in January of this year.

“It is my understanding that a member of the family approached Jake Berry, our MP, to raise his concerns over the funeral industry being unregulated and whilst doing so gave his account of the incident and the conversations that followed.

“Unfortunately, Mr Berry failed to contact me or anyone else for that matter to discuss the issues raised and decided to take this incomplete account of events to a Parliament discussion where he divulged my personal name, business name and the comments made to him.

“I have to say, also being a constituent of Mr Berry, I am very disappointed that he has done this. He failed to fact check any of the information provided to him. I am seeking advice with regards to this.

“Following the accident I worked very closely with our local health and safety department who helped me tweak some of our policies and confirmed that no further action was to be taken and there was no case to answer. It is worth mentioning that the straps being used were not owned by KC.

“Being a member of any association would not have prevented this awful accident from happening.

“In fact, I’m aware of a similar strap mishap happening to another local funeral director very recently and they are a member of one of the associations.

“It was a truly awful accident to have happened and was terribly upsetting for all involved. Myself included. I pride myself on the love and care I provide to the families who use my services and their loved one.

“KC are my father’s initials and this business has been set up in his memory. I’ve worked very hard to establish this business over the last 3 years and have created a fantastic reputation during that time.

“I have tried to contact Mr Berry on numerous occasions by telephone and email and I am being ignored by him.”

Sheila Lysiuk, who owns Darwen Funeral Service alongside her husband Marco, said the couple want the industry to be regulated.

She said: “We have been campaigning for years for our industry to be regulated, with qualifications in order to become a funeral director.

“As it stands, anybody could rent a shop and put a sign up calling themselves a funeral director, with no qualifications at all.

“They don’t have to be members of associations and if KC had been a member of the associations, there might have been some form of regress.

“Anybody with qualifications would have known just by looking at the straps that they weren’t long or thick enough and were completely unsuitable.

“There should also, as we insist, be a fully fledged team of pallbearers on hand to assist with lowering coffins into graves.”

Mr Berry was unavailable for comment when contacted by the Lancashire Telegraph.