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World News

Catholic priest 'shaken' after conducting 'fake funeral'

by Donna Birrell

A Catholic priest in London says he has been left 'shaken' and 'disturbed' after conducting what has been described as a 'fake funeral'.

The service at the London Oratory Roman Catholic church in South Kensington was believed to be for a 23 year old Latvian man called Lauris Zaube who went missing at New Year. Fr Rupert McHardy had prepared his sermon and was in his robes when a choirmaster became suspicious. 

Mr Zaube's brother who said his name was Clyde, is said to have organised the funeral and provided a death certificate which was in Russian.  

Fr McHardy told MailOnline that he had received a request for Monday’s funeral with the man he knew as Clyde Zaube choosing the readings and claiming a connection to the church:

“On the day of the funeral, it all started to unravel. The undertakers were going to collect the body and then at the last minute they were told, ‘there is no body, we have ashes.”

He added that the man who said he was Clyde Zaube refused to speak to him when he challenged him about what was happening and “it became clear he wasn’t who he claimed to be”.

He also said that actors had been hired to play mourners and that they were complaining that they hadn't been paid.

The 'funeral' included two vintage cars for mourners as well as a horse-drawn hearse and photographs of the alleged dead man.

Fr McHardy said that the whole event had left him “shaken” and “disturbed...I was worried there was going to be some sort of violence. I thought, I have got to stop it because it's all fake. It was very spooky.”

A spokeswoman for the Latvian State Police confirmed Lauris Zaube is missing and that they are investigating his disappearance: “The State Police is informed about this event. But the missing person himself, Lauris Zaube, has not been found so far.”

A source at the firm of funeral directors told MailOnline:

'It is the most bizarre thing we have ever been involved with.

'We were contacted online about a week ago and asked to make all the arrangements, which we did.

'The money was paid to us by bank transfer so it is not as if we have not been paid. Everything seemed in order, and there was a death certificate that was in Russian.

'Everyone has been paid, except from I hear some of the actors. We have passed all that we know to the police, and it is in their hands.'

Police are now investigating.

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