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Desecration of Corpses: Criminalisation

Volume 685: debated on Tuesday 8 December 2020

What assessment his Department has made of the potential merits of criminalising the desecration of a corpse. (909928)

The bodies of those who have died should be treated with dignity and respect. Where that does not happen, the criminal law can intervene and there are a number of offences that may apply: preventing the lawful burial of a body, outraging public decency, perverting the course of justice, removing human tissue without consent and so on. We will of course keep the law under review.

I thank the Minister for that reply. I am supporting the campaign of the mother of Helen McCourt, whom we know in this place for successfully campaigning on Helen’s law, but who is equally determined, while understanding the points the Minister has made, to see further reform so that the criminal justice system adequately reflects how we would feel if one of our loved ones was desecrated after death. Will he agree to meet me and discuss with Helen McCourt’s mother further steps we might be able to take?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for raising that excellent point and for paying tribute to Mrs McCourt, whose brave campaign has led to Helen’s law, as he rightly indicates, getting on to the statute book, having recently received Royal Assent, in large part because of her campaigning activity. We keep the matter under review, and I would be delighted to meet him, as he suggests.