Highgate Cemetery grave owners in row over trustee elections

A furious row has broken out over the way Highgate Cemetery holds its elections, six years after its voting process was probed by the Charity Commission.

An anonymous group of grave owners has accused the Friends of Highgate Cemetery (FoHC) of unfairly favouring certain candidates for its board of trustees ahead of others.

The cemetery is advising members not to vote for long-time volunteer Doreen Aislabie, while specifically recommending the three other candidates to fill the three vacancies.

In an anonymous letter to the Ham&High, a group of grave owners said: “This has caused outrage among the volunteers, who are campaigning against this injustice.”

A Friend, who wanted to remain anonymous, added: “This is unfair and a slap in the face to volunteers who aspire to be elected in the future.”

In 2009, the Charity Commission looked into the cemetery’s election process after volunteers raised concerns of vote rigging but it decided not to formally investigate the claims.

The cemetery has insisted it is standard procedure under Charity Commission guidelines to recommend candidates ahead of others.

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Ian Dungavell, chief executive of FoHC, said: “I can reassure your correspondents that the days of vote-rigging at Highgate Cemetery are over.

He added: “The most suitable candidates have been recommended for election.

“The days are long past when charities just keep their fingers crossed and hope that someone suitable comes forward.”

Dr Dungavell said the trust undertook a skills audit of the candidates and interviewed them before making its recommendations.