Ian Brady’s funeral must have no music or ceremony, judge rules

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Oct 16, 2017
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The Moors murderer’s funeral arrangements were taken out of the hands of his executor, who was criticised for keeping plans secret

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Ian Brady’s body must be disposed of with “no music and no ceremony”, a High Court judge ruled on Friday as he banned the killer’s “ghoulish” choice of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Sir Geoffrey Vos, the chancellor of the High Court, said that the theme and subject of the piece, which tells of a killer haunted by his victim in the afterlife, would have caused “legitimate offence” to the families of Brady’s victims. The judge was ruling on the arrangements for the disposal of the Moors murderer’s body, which has been in refrigerated since he died on May 15 aged 79.

Sir Geoffrey had been asked by two local authorities to make decisions for the body’s disposal so that it could be “lawfully and decently disposed of without further delay”. The judge said that “it was not suggested by [Robin Makin, Brady’s executor] that the deceased had requested any other music to be played or any other ceremony to be performed, and in those circumstances, I propose to direct that there be no music and no ceremony”. 

His judgment quoted a Sun newspaper article describing the choice of music as “ghoulish” and the symphony as “charting killers’ descent into hell”.

The judge said Oldham council and Tameside council, which were represented by the law firm Hill Dickinson, were concerned that five months after Brady’s death Makin had failed to make proper arrangements for the disposal. He ordered that the councils take over the task of disposing of the body, noting that Makin “has refused to say what he intends to do with the ashes if he is allowed custody of them”.

Sir Geoffrey said: “Mr Makin, therefore, cannot be entrusted with the ashes for disposal. Even if I were to limit him to private ground, against his wishes, that ground might be somewhere where public access was possible. I am satisfied also that it is both necessary and expedient for the matter to be taken out of Mr Makin’s hands if the deceased’s body is to be disposed of quickly, lawfully and decently.”

Sir Geoffrey said that the overwhelming factor in the case was the public interest. “The deceased’s wishes are relevant, but they do not outweigh the need to avoid justified public indignation and actual unrest,” he said.

Criticising Makin, the judge added that the solicitor “has not been justified in being so secretive about how he was intending to dispose of the deceased’s body”. Had the solicitor discussed the matter openly with the council, the High Court proceedings might have been avoided, he added.

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