Mortonhall scandal: Alex Salmond faces inqury call

The Edinburgh Evening News first broke the story of the Mortonhall scandal. Picture: Toby Williams

The Edinburgh Evening News first broke the story of the Mortonhall scandal. Picture: Toby Williams

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First Minister Alex Salmond has faced renewed calls for a public inquiry into the baby ashes scandal.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said only a national investigation will bring “justice” for bereaved parents.

The call comes after the establishment of an independent commission, led by former high court judge Lord Bonomy.

He will review policies and practice across Scotland in relation to the handling of ashes following the cremation of babies and infants, and make recommendations for improvements.

It emerged last December in the Edinburgh Evening News that Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh secretly buried the ashes of babies for decades without the knowledge of the families.

Since then other local authorities have been implicated.

It was revealed that while 24 babies were cremated at Aberdeen crematorium in the last five years, the ashes were never given to the families.

At First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood, Miss Davidson said: “I appreciate the steps that have been made on this issue but those steps are increasingly being overtaken by events.”

The commission is not designed to tell parents what happened to their children, she said.

“The only way to get what everyone in this chamber wants, which is justice for the affected families right across Scotland, is a full public inquiry,” she said.

“Will the First Minister please reconsider?”

Alex Salmond said the current process is the right one but told her: “If Ruth Davidson wants to bring forward proposals as to why a national public inquiry would actually benefit the parents, then of course we will look at it.

“There is a big argument for effectively proceeding in the way that’s now being done in terms of speed and in terms of giving people the answers they want.”

Former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini is already chairing an investigation into practices at Mortonhall.

The commission will report its findings to the Scottish Government by the end of the year.