Widower wins injunction against daughter to stop late wife’s funeral - and cremate her instead

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A grieving widower has won an urgent injunction against his own daughter amid a bitter legal battle over whether his late wife should be cremated or buried.

Eric Julien was able to halt Alice Julien’s funeral following the last-minute legal victory.

Mrs Julien, a mother of five who had been married to Mr Julien for 57 years, died from pancreatic cancer on Feb 1 this year.

A hearing at the High Court in Leeds was told that she had a horror of burial and had often spoken of her fears of being underground with “worms and insects”.

Details of the highly unusual case have been revealed in legal papers after Mr Julien was granted an injunction against his daughter Lisa White, preventing her going ahead with plans to bury her mother, against his wishes and without telling him.

Instead the court ordered that the body of Mrs Julien, who was born in Ireland, was to be cremated following a Catholic funeral service at West London Crematorium, after which her ashes were to be interred in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Judge rules two wakes

Mr Julien was given permission to be the only person to deliver a eulogy for his late wife.

A High Court judge also ruled that two separate wakes for Mrs Julien, paid for out of her estate, would be permitted.

The order served on Ms White reads: “Separate arrangements may be made by the Claimant [Mr Julien] and the First Defendant [Ms White] for a reception to take place following the funeral service and cremation.”

However, Mr Julien claims that following the cremation Ms White arranged for his wife’s ashes to be buried in a plot at St Mary’s Churchyard in Frenmar Gardens, which backs onto her home.

Mr Julien said he strongly believed his wife did not want to be buried in Ireland, as she not only considered London her home, but had not been to Ireland for 15 years following the death of her sister.

Will contested

Mr Julien is also contesting a will produced by Ms White. The court heard that at the time of the will’s signing Mrs Julien, from Paddington, west London, was ill with cancer, drifting in and out of consciousness, and was affected by the strong opioid drug oxycodone. She had not been able to hold a conversation for the whole of December.

Soon after her mother’s death, however, Ms White allegedly produced a will which said her mother wanted to be buried in Ireland with her husband and leave much of her estate, estimated to be at least £270,000, to Ms White rather than all her children.

The will, which named Ms White and Karen Shoreman, director of Crown Wills & Probate Service as executors, also left £10,000 each to Ms White’s three grandchildren, but nothing to the other six great-grandchildren.

The court also heard claims that Ms White arranged for her mother to be buried on March 10 2023, but when Mr Julien and other relatives contacted her, asking her to stop the funeral arrangements, she stopped taking their calls, and refused to stop the arrangements.

It is also alleged that two days after Mrs Julien died, Ms White and her husband Dean White were involved in an altercation with her sister Donna Julien and her son Dax outside the family home during which police were called.

Mr Julien says he was granted a non-molestation order against Mr and Mrs White by Willesden Family Court.

He states in legal papers lodged with the Leeds High Court that they both have a cocaine habit, and that Mr White, described in court documents as “an intimidating and dominating character”, was given a 12-year sentence for drug trafficking and has spent time in prison for offences of violence, theft and drug related offences.

Ms White asked for the paragraph containing these allegations be struck out on the grounds it is scurrilous, vexatious and irrelevant.

Emergency injunction

Funeral director Barnes & Hicks refused to delay the funeral without a court order, which meant Mr Julien had to seek an emergency injunction in Leeds.

He maintains in his claim that his wife’s will was invalid, because he and his late wife “had a close and trusting relationship and she would not have signed the will without him being there”.

The widower also claims that Mrs Julien was very confused, highly medicated and semi-conscious when the will was supposed to have been signed, adding that she could not hold a coherent conversation and did not know or approve the will’s contents.

Mr Julien also maintains that his wife had previously wanted to leave all her estate to him and was always very clear and fair in treating her five children equally.

However Ms White rejects his claims, maintaining that her mother was not confused or highly medicated.

She argues that the will was valid because her father and mother, and her husband were

all sitting in Ms White’s lounge as her mother spoke to Ms Shoreman on speakerphone, and “it is to be inferred that he heard her funeral wishes, ultimately bequeath her share of the house solely to the first defendant and disinherit her other children”.

His Honour Judge Davis-White KC gave both sides three months to allow them to consider a settlement of the dispute by mediation.