Police are investigating what is believed to have been Britain's first human funeral pyre in recent years despite its organiser claiming they had given the event their "blessing".
The body of Rajpal Mehat, an Indian-born Sikh, was burned in a remote field in Northumberland yesterday, despite the 1930 Cremation Act apparently banning the practice. He drowned in a canal in Southall, west London, in December last year and his body was not allowed to be flown back to India for cremation.
Instead, his family asked Davender Ghai, president of the Newcastle-based Anglo-Asian Friendship Society to help.
He hired a site from an a pparently unwitting landowner in Stamfordham, Northumberland, then lit the pyre, in accordance with Mr Mehat's religion.
Northumbria Police were alerted to the funeral before it took place, and visited Mr Ghai yesterday morning.
He said: "The police came down here and at first they stopped the cars.
"Then the officer said he had been in touch with the chief constable and said with his blessing said 'Yes, you can go ahead with the funeral pyre, according to your religion'.
"We didn't tell the landlord what we were going to do, we just told him we wanted to use the site for a good cause."
Mr Mehat, aged about 30, was an "illegal immigrant" when he died in a canal.
An inquest has been held.