£75,000 baby ashes case settled

The greiving parents affected by the Mortonhall ashes scandal met MSPs. Picture; Neil Hanna
The greiving parents affected by the Mortonhall ashes scandal met MSPs. Picture; Neil Hanna

A BEREAVED mother who is suing the city council for £75,000 over the effects of the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal looks set to accept an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.

Madelaine Cave, 58, claimed she suffered psychological injury, including nightmares and anxiety, after finding out there were ashes following her daughter’s cremation when she was told there would be none.

Ms Cave’s daughter Meghan died suddenly just 15 days after she was born in 1994 and was later cremated at council-owned Mortonhall crematorium.

In her court action Ms Cave, who lived in North Berwick but has now moved to Colorado in the USA, said she would never know where Meghan’s remains are nor how they were disposed of.

The Evening News revealed in December 2012 how for decades families had been told baby cremations left no ashes, while in fact staff were burying the ashes in unmarked ground.

In 2015, almost 130 affected families accepted compensation pay-outs of between £1000 and £4000 from the council.

Ms Cave branded the council’s offer “an insult”. She said at the time: “Some people will say ‘Money won’t bring your baby back’ but this is not about bringing my baby back, this is about what they have done and it’s called justice. If my car was stolen tomorrow I would get more than £1000. It’s like saying that’s all my baby’s ashes are worth.”

At a hearing in the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday, Robert Milligan QC asked for Ms Cave’s case to be continued.

He told the judge Lord Ericht: “I am pleased to say an agreement, at least in principle, has been reached to resolve the whole claim.”

In the court action, Ms Cave said she and Meghan’s father, Donald Cave, were told by an employee that there were new furnaces at Mortonhall which were very hot and no ashes would result from the cremation of a child so young.

It had been Ms Cave’s wish to scatter Meghan’s ashes at a favourite spot in the Lammermuir Hills in East Lothian.

She said she had been deprived of the opportunity to dispose of her daughter’s ashes in a way and at a place she wished and of going to that spot to grieve and remember Meghan.

She said the revelations and disclosures about the circumstances of her daughter’s cremation had caused her post-traumatic stress disorder and she was also suffering from a pain disorder.

Altogether there were around 250 cases where parents of babies who were stillborn or died soon after birth were told there would be no ashes following cremation, many made clear they had no interest in seeking financial compensation. It is understood there are no other outstanding cases arising from the Mortonhall scandal.

Ms Cave did not want to discuss the case today.

A council spokesman said: “It would be inappropriate to comment on an individual case.”

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com