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News Release

Aberdeenshire Council removes controversial headstone

23rd August 2011

Aberdeenshire Council has removed the headstone from the grave of Claire Morris, following calls from her family.

The council has been in discussions with the legal representative for Claire Morris’ family over the past few months, following the conviction of Malcolm Webster for the murder of his wife in May 2011.

The council was asked to take action to remove Malcolm Webster as the lairholder.

The Head of Legal & Governance at Aberdeenshire Council Karen Wiles explained: “We appreciate the strong feelings of Ms Morris’ family and the wider public mood about this issue.

“Having considered very carefully all the legal implications we believe that, given Mr Webster’s criminal conviction, it is appropriate for us to remove the headstone and place it in secure storage.

“We have written to Mr Webster’s lawyer asking him to relinquish his position as lairholder and have received a response declining this request. We will be writing once again to advise them of the action we have now taken.

“We are keen to alleviate any further distress to the Morris family, but it is entirely appropriate that we consider our position very carefully before taking any action.”

The Morris family have been advised and represented by the Aberdeen Law Project in relation to the legal issues surrounding the ownership of the lair.

Ryan Whelan, Founder of the Aberdeen Law Project, has been the student advising the Morris family. He said: “The Morris family and I are delighted that the council has acted to remove the headstone.

“Given that Malcolm Webster was convicted of murdering Claire Morris, the gravestone that was in situ was a desecration of Claire’s grave in the mind of all sensible persons. It is right and proper that it has now been removed by Aberdeenshire Council.

“What we have achieved today is a pragmatic solution to a complex legal matter. The Council are to be commended for engaging with us to identify and implement this solution, and we look forward to continuing to work with them in resolving other matters.”

 

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