Family told dad is dead in letter

Anthony Atkinson with the letter saying he had died
Anthony Atkinson with the letter saying he had died
Share this article

An investigation has been launched after a family was sent a letter wrongly stating a man had died.

Chorley Council sent the letter to Bernadette Atkinson saying her husband, Anthony, 52, had passed away.

The couple’s son, Karl, 26, said his mother looked “terrified” when she read it.

He said: “My mum nearly had a heart attack. My dad wasn’t in when we got home – he had gone out – and we were busy reading that my dad was dead. My mum was in hysterics.”

Karl phoned his dad but there was no answer.

However, Anthony had not died and had simply gone out with his brother.

He returned to their home on Portsmouth Drive, Chorley, around 45 minutes later.

Bernadette, 51, ran towards him and gave him a hug, before explaining what had happened.

Karl said: “My dad was understandably really angry.

“It was a bit of a strange situation, because he was reading a letter saying he wasn’t with us anymore.”

Karl phoned the council and says he was told the information had come from the registrar, but when he contacted the register office, they could not find a record of his father’s death.

So he went to the council offices and claims he was given another explanation.

Karl said: “The story changed to say a distraught family member had been in touch saying that my dad had died. I’m really angry.

“It’s really unprofessional of them.”

Karl is even more upset because he says his dad was reminded to pay council tax during one phone call with the council.

The family is now seeking an apology from the council for the letter and wants to find out who the information came from and why the letter was sent.

Karl, who works in a bakery, said: “We want an apology and a conclusion to it.

“It seems nothing is happening. They haven’t told us whose fault it is or where they got the information from.”

Gary Hall, the council’s chief executive, said: “I apologise most sincerely to the family and can understand the distress it must have caused them.

“We received the information in good faith and went through our usual checking process, however there have obviously been some problems with it in this case. We are investigating what happened to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“I am extremely sorry that this has happened.”