The partner of a murdered man whose body parts were retained by police for 19 years has begun legal action.

Anthony Butler was murdered by the loyalist UFF in south Belfast in 1993.

Police apologised on Wednesday for distress caused to families after it was revealed body parts and tissue samples had been kept in 64 cases.

His partner Maureen Jamison said she was “in total shock and very angry” after being told on Thursday that part of his skull had been retained.

No-one has ever been charged with his murder.

Ms Jamison said: “The police banged on the door yesterday and told me that they were here regarding my late partner.

“I thought that the police were coming out to tell me that they caught the people who murdered Tony.

“It’s as if it is happening all over again. This has brought all the pain back.

“They left me with a decision whether to bury Tony’s skull or incinerate it.”

The family’s solicitor, Patrick Madden, said: “We do not accept the explanation given by police for not informing the family about the retained body part.

“There must be an immediate and transparent inquiry into why relatives were not informed and why they have waited until now to come clean.”

On Wednesday, Assistant Chief Constable George Hamilton said the PSNI had acted within the law but admitted relatives should have been informed.

The cases, including 23 related to the Troubles, were revealed as part of a UK-wide audit of all police forces.

The PSNI said the body parts were retained as part of investigations between 1960 and 2005 and could include skulls and organs.

ACC Hamilton said until 2006 police were under no legal obligation to inform relatives.

He said although all the items had been retained for “police purposes”, he admitted that families should have been told.