Independent person to lead Mortonhall probe

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AN independent figure from outside of Edinburgh City Council will be appointed to oversee further enquiries into the Mortonhall Crematorium scandal under recommendations released this afternoon.

A council report into revelations that cremated remains of new and stillborn infants were buried in a mass grave at Mortonhall without telling grieving parents is due to go before the city’s transport and environment committee next Tuesday.

Details from the report released ahead of next week showed the council had bowed to pressure from affected families, who have been demanding a public enquiry into the scandal since last month, for the first time.

Bereaved parents who have made enquiries would all receive a full explanation regarding the recovery or non-recovery of ashes under other council recommendations.

A review of existing policy, practice, equipment and staff training at Mortonhall to make sure the facility complies with national guidelines, and a commitment to continuing discussions over an appropriate memorial are also detailed in the report.

Council chief executive Sue Bruce will continue talks with the Scottish Government on issues arising from the investigation that could be of national importance, the council said.

Cremation records from the past 40 years are being independently audited at a potential cost of more than £100,000 in an attempt to uncover the full truth of the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal.

PricewaterhouseCoopers have been hired to carried out the audit. The scandal was first uncovered by bereavement charity Sands Lothian.

City environment convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “Having received these findings I feel it is only right and proper, and taking into account the views of parents, that an independent person now completes the inquiry.

“This person would also look all the recommendations in the report, which include ensuring the council has clear policies in relation to cremations and that they comply with national guidelines.”