New baby ashes cases come forward after Mortonhall

Mortonhall Crematorium. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
Mortonhall Crematorium. Pic: Phil Wilkinson
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ELEVEN new baby ashes cases stemming from the Mortonhall scandal are to be investigated by Dame Elish Angiolini.

The new cases – understood to involve cremations which took place many years ago – have been registered with Dame Elish’s National Cremation Investigation since she produced her report into Mortonhall in April.

Council staff are now working with the investigation team to try to establish what happened to the ashes of the babies concerned.

The Evening News revealed in December 2012 how parents were routinely told there would be no remains after cremation of babies at council-run Mortonhall Crematorium when in fact they were later buried in cardboard boxes in the grounds.

Dame Elish investigated a total of 253 cases before producing her report, which made a series of recommendations to ensure such behaviour could never happen again.

Dorothy Maitland, operations manager of bereavement charity Sands Lothian, said some affected parents had waited until the outcome of the report before making their case known.

“At the beginning there were people who did not want to believe it and they did not come forward until they had seen it in black and white,” she said.

The council said it was providing any information required by Dame Elish’s team.

An update on the action plan on Mortonhall agreed in the wake of Dame Elish’s report says that staff at the crematorium are keen to engage in service improvements.

It says a review by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities has identified a need for improvement in certain areas including record-keeping and cleanliness.

The update, due to be

presented to the city’s corporate policy and strategy committee on Tuesday, also says work is under way to landscape an area of land next to the Garden of Remembrance at Mortonhall.

The land, which the city acknowledged to be in “poor condition”, was a plot where some of the baby ashes are believed to have been buried near to a skip.

Ms Maitland said she hoped the land could be made into a pleasant, peaceful area with some kind of memorial.

A working group is still discussing what kind of memorial there should be and where it should be sited. Ms Maitland said she believed there needed to be a memorial at Mortonhall, but also one at a less contentious venue. “Some parents never want to go to Mortonhall again,” she said.

She praised the city for its efforts in the wake of the scandal.

Ms Maitland said: “These people are really determined to do the right thing.”

And Willie Reid, chairman of the Mortonhall Ashes Action Committee, also said he was impressed by the council’s attitude. “They seem to be going out of their way to help us,” he said.