Warriston faces legal action over disposal of baby ashes

Warriston Crematorium. Picture: TSPL

Warriston Crematorium. Picture: TSPL

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FIVE families in the Capital have initiated legal action against a private crematorium amid claims staff disposed of babies’ ashes without their 
permission.

A lawyer representing the parents has confirmed they have instructed him to pursue claims against Warriston Crematorium similar to those brought against its council-owned counterpart at Mortonhall.

There, around 250 cases emerged where parents of babies who were stillborn, or died soon after birth, were told there would be no ashes following cremation, when in fact the infants’ remains were buried secretly in the crematorium grounds. It is understood complaints against Warriston – which date back to the 
1970s – relate to similar instances in which ashes were disposed of without parents’ knowledge.

Antonio Franchitti, from Gifford, whose baby son 
Gianpaul died within hours of being born at Edinburgh’s Elsie Inglis maternity unity in August 1970, is among those pursuing a claim and believes his child was cremated and the ashes disposed of without his permission.

Mr Franchitti, cousin of racing driver Dario, said: “Gianpaul lived for three hours. [I] had no idea what happened to Gianpaul – after repeated calls to the hospital, they would not tell us.

“I found out through the story in the Evening News about babies’ ashes. Then I found out that Gianpaul had been laid to rest at Warriston Crematorium 34 years later.

“I want justice for what they have done. I’ve lost two sons – Gianpaul and Marco – and my wife. They are with God now. He needed them more than me.”

Legal representatives for the families said Warriston had previously been held up as an example of good practice in infant cremation.

And they said it was not clear whether the new claims indicate a one-off lapse in standards or point to deeper problems requiring further 
investigation.

Stressing that each of the cases is complex, Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors, who is acting on behalf of the parents, said: “I am instructed by five families from Edinburgh to investigate and pursue claims against Warriston Crematorium that are similar to the Mortonhall claims.

“It’s tragic that families have been touched in this way and I will be doing everything I can to help them obtain 
justice.”

Management at Warriston Crematorium declined to comment on the development when contacted by the Evening News.

NHS officials said their lawyers had yet to be informed of complaints about management action at the former Elsie Inglis Memorial Hospital and also declined to comment.

Under a deal unveiled earlier this year, parents affected by the Mortonhall scandal are to receive compensation of at least £1000 – but those who can produce evidence that they suffered serious stress, requiring medical treatment or time off work, could qualify for £4000.