Britain's biggest funeral company is investigating claims that dead bodies were being stored like "television sets" in a warehouse.
An undercover reporter from Channel 4 secretly filmed staff of Co-operative Funeralcare working in a warehouse in an industrial estate where racks of bodies were being stored ahead of funerals, some of them just inches apart, the Australian Associated Press reported.
The documentary was to air June 25 but has reportedly already sparked widespread revulsion, as footage leaked out.
“I’m shocked," former funeral ombudsman Geoffrey Woodroffe was quoted in The Sun as saying. "They’re treating people as if they’re stacking TV sets."
He reportedly added: "I'd hate to think that a member of my family would have been treated in that way. No, I find it shocking."
Some of the other practices the Channel 4 documentary, called "Undercover Undertaker," claimed to have uncovered included four bodies crammed into one casket and transported, with no lid, in a van, eventually being unloaded in front of apartment buildings; producing the wrong corpse to a family at a funeral; and persistent attempts to sell families on higher cost funerals.
The report by suggests such practices may be in violation of industry standards, and possibly illegal.
Co-operative Funeralcare organizes more than 100,000 funerals a year from 900 funeral homes, the Guardian wrote, adding that the company claimed to be shocked and practices which go "against everything we stand for."
A company spokesman reportedly said: "We do not believe that the instances shown in the program are representative of our many caring staff. We have however launched an immediate investigation into the program's findings and will take any action necessary to ensure our high standards and our policy of enabling clients to make informed choices is maintained."
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