Haringey Council has apologised to a grieving family who arrived at a funeral only to find the grave had not been dug.

More than 100 people led by a marching band arrived at Tottenham Cemetery for the funeral of Haringey resident Matilda Oliver and discovered the mistake.

Mrs Oliver's niece Jackie Greenway said the family was upset and distressed that such a mistake could have been made.

She said: "When we arrived at the cemetery, the undertaker went away and came back saying there wasn't a grave, he said they'd made a mistake and dug it elsewhere.

"I've never heard of anything like this happening before, it had already been a very long day and a lot of people were getting quite distressed."

The funeral was put on hold while the family decided whether to wait an hour for a grave to be dug, or go to Wood Green Cemetery.

Ms Greenway said they had chosen the cemetery in White Hart Lane so that Mrs Oliver could be buried alongside her sister. But faced with the mix-up, they went to Wood Green to complete the funeral.

She said: "We didn't know what to do, there were a lot of people waiting and we could either wait an hour or all go to another cemetery.

"We had a family meeting and decided to move. I'm going to complain about what happened."

Haringey Council said the funeral directors who had organised the service on behalf of the family had asked for a grave in Wood Green on the phone, but had subsequently changed the location on the paper work it submitted.

The council said in a statement: "When they submitted the follow-up paperwork, however, the undertakers underlined Tottenham cemetery rather than Wood Green – without highlighting this change on their part.

"We accept that we should nonetheless have picked up this change and are extremely sorry for the distress caused to the family by this vary rare mix-up.

"As soon as we realised a mistake had been made, we offered to go straight to Tottenham to arrange the funeral there, but the family had by then decided to come to Wood Green in the circumstances."

Ms Greenway said the undertaker – from African Caribbean Funeral Services, based in Stoke Newington – had blamed the council for the mistake on the day of the burial.

The Haringey Independent contacted the firm for an explanation and is awaiting a response.