Row over man's body laid to rest

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Two women who fought over the right to cremate the body of the man they both loved settled the case yesterday after a judge appealed for common sense. The legal aid bill is estimated in the region of pounds 10,000.

David Brinson, 42, a private investigator who became rich through property deals, died intestate on 30 May of pancreatitis. His wife, Sally, 40, a portrait photographer, of Sidcup, Kent, married him in 1977 and they had two children, David, 14, and Layla, 11. She applied for the certificate allowing release of the body for cremation to be given to her as next of kin.

But Lorraine Brinson, 40, of St Paul's Cray, Orpington, claimed the certificate should go to her. She took Mr Brinson's name by deed poll after they began an affair 12 years ago, and said that as he and his wife had separated, she and her two children, Laine, nine, and Ross, seven, were his immediate family.

The women, who live in semi-detached homes three miles apart, have also fought over whose house the body should be taken to and who should be the pallbearers at the funeral.

The Southwark coroner, Sir Montague Levine, had refused a certificate to either, leaving them to go to the High Court.

Mr Justice Owen urged them to seek a compromise, asking: "What's the point of it all? It is not going to indicate who loved him the more. It is certainly not going to indicate what his feelings were ... I can only suggest common sense plays its part. The certificate doesn't seem to matter two ha'p'orth anyway."

After an hour of talks Martyn Zeidman, representing Sally Brinson, said agreement had been reached "on each and every point concerning the cremation of the deceased, including the songs that will be sung".

The certificate will be issued to an undertaker and the body taken to a funeral parlour ready for cremation in a few days.