Kettering Council has apologised after taking down a memorial plaque five years before its lease was due to end.
Ivan Humphrey purchased the plaque, which came with a 20-year lease, in the memorial garden at Kettering Crematorium for £320 when his father-in-law died in 2001.
He recently attended his mother-in-law’s funeral, where his wife decided she would like the many floral tributes to be placed around her father’s plaque.
But on arrival, they found the plaque had been removed.
Mr Humphrey said: “You can imagine our total shock and dismay to find that the memorial plaque dedicated to my wife’s dad had been removed altogether by Kettering Council without any consultation or correspondence whatsoever.
“They have acted illegally by removing the plaque five years before the lease was due to expire.
“I know space is at a premium at Kettering Crematorium, but I didn’t think that the council would stoop so low to create the spaces needed for new memorial plaques in this manner.”
A Kettering Council spokesman said: “We have now been in contact with Mr and Mrs Humphrey.
“It is normally the case that a plaque is leased for 10 years, after which time we take it down, keep it in secure storage for safekeeping and have a conversation with the relatives.
“On this occasion the plaque had been leased for a 20-year period, which we had overlooked.
“We have apologised to Mr and Mrs Humphrey for any distress caused and have put the plaque back in position.
“Kettering Council would welcome contact from families who think they may have family memorials where the lease has expired, or may be about to do so.”