The inquiry is likely to press for clarification of the law on organ retention, chair Professor Ian Kennedy has announced. It asked for legal advice after witnesses revealed that UK hospitals hold more than 15,000 organs.

The advice from law firm Cameron McKenna is that existing UK legislation is 'unclear' and 'does not provide adequate guidance'.

But keeping for medical research organs which were originally removed for another reason could prove an 'unauthorised' use.

It also says retaining organs once the Human Rights Act is incorporated into UK law next October may violate the right to respect for private and family life.

The lawyers recommend that relatives should be informed if organs are to be removed and told for what purpose they will be used.

Removal, retention and use of human tissue following post mortem examination.