Mortonhall cremator to ensure end of ashes horrors

Mortonhall  is to use a new cremator to prevent further baby ashes horrors. Picture: Toby Williams
Mortonhall is to use a new cremator to prevent further baby ashes horrors. Picture: Toby Williams
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FOR bereaved parents of the Mortonhall ashes scandal it is an act that should finally ensure no-one will have to endure the same horrors as them.

Council bosses last night confirmed the purchase of a special infant cremator – believed to be the first in Scotland – to help ensure ALL ashes are retained at future services at the ­controversial crematorium.

Campaigners have spoken of their “relief” and “joy” that the vital and long-awaited £25,000 equipment will be installed at the site.

Council chiefs have been keen to stress that the move has not come about as a result of the independent inquiry being undertaken by Dame Elish Angiolini QC. Her long- anticipated report is to be released to parents next month.

But some have questioned the timing of the authority’s announcement, which is being seen by many parents as a “pre-emptive strike” before the dossier’s publication.

Dorothy Maitland of bereavement charity Sands Lothian, said: “This is great news, I am very happy to hear this. This will ensure parents that in future the issue of remains will not even be up for debate. £25,000 is a lot of money for some people but it’s nothing compared to the peace of mind and assurances it gives parents.”

The cremator, which has been bought from Cheshire-based company Furnace Construction Cremators Ltd, will be installed later this year.

Baby coffins or cribs less than 11 inches wide can be used and a small amount of ash can be guaranteed for strewing or collection – the cremator burns at a lower temperature than a regular adult cremator ­therefore ensuring remains.

Arlene and Gary McDougall, of Howdenhall, are two parents affected by the Mortonhall scandal.

They found out in December 2012 that ashes for baby Fraser – cremated in 1999 – were interred in the garden of rest after initially believing the claim fed to countless parents that there were no ashes.

Mr McDougall, 52, said of the new infant cremator: “This is a step in the right direction, albeit it’s too late for us and the other parents.

“At least in future couples will not have to go through what we went through. It should never have happened in the first place.”

This was echoed by Mrs Maitland, who added: “I’d like to see this service being offered in every crematorium so that there are no grey areas.”

A council spokesman confirmed the step. He said: “The council is investing in a new cremator which will be installed later this year.”

Report due out next month

ASHES scandal parents are expected to receive copies of the independent report into the scandal next month.

It had been feared council executives would be allowed to read the findings of Dame Elish Angiolini first but it has been confirmed that parents will be the number one “priority” when the delayed dossier is finally laid bare. An update last week revealed additional submitted evidence requires further investigation.