Mortonhall parent slams £1000 compensation offer

Madelaine Cave's daughter died when she was just 15 days old.  Picture: Ian Rutherford
Madelaine Cave's daughter died when she was just 15 days old. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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A BEREAVED mother has branded the £1000 compensation deal offered to parents affected by the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal “an insult”.

Lawyers representing 129 parents affected by the malpractice have reached a proposed settlement with council officials in a payout that could cost the city £600,000.

Parents had been told there were no ashes left after the cremation of their children who were stillborn or died soon after birth, when in fact their babies’ remains were buried or scattered in the grounds of Mortonhall crematorium without their knowledge.

Madelaine Cave, whose daughter Meghan died of an undiagnosed heart condition just 15 days after she was born in 1994, was one of those taking legal action.

Today she said she had no intention of accepting the offer.

The settlement deal with law firm Thompsons, which councillors will be asked to approve next week, would give all those seeking compensation a payment of £1000. Those able to provide evidence they suffered severe stress would receive £4000.

But Ms Cave, from North Berwick, said: “I have e-mailed the council to tell them I’m not accepting the proposal. I think it’s an insult.

“My child died over 20 years ago and I spent 18 years working hard to recover.

“What Mortonhall did set me back years and I will have to deal with what they have done for the rest of my life.”

She said the authority could not “fix” what had happened.

“Some people will say ‘Money won’t bring your baby back’ but this is not about bringing my baby back, this is about what they have done and it’s called justice,” said Ms Cave.

“If my car was stolen tomorrow I would get more than £1000. It’s like saying that’s all my baby’s ashes are worth. I cannot put a sum of money on it, but I know it’s not £1000.”

Ms Cave said the experience had harmed her health.

“I developed heart palpitations, I suffered chronic pain for two years and I have had other physical things wrong, all related to stress,” she said.

“Can I prove these were caused by this? No, but I know the pain this has caused.”

The compensation scheme is set to cost the council up to £600,000. Parents who are not covered by the Thompsons claim can still pursue a claim if they choose, but many have said they are not interested in financial payments.

Ms Cave said: “I think the council is relying on people feeling uncomfortable talking about financial settlements for babies’ deaths.”

Announcing the proposed settlement yesterday, council chief executive Dame Sue Bruce said she was recommending the council agrees the deal and Thompsons was advising its clients to accept the payments on offer.

It was in December 2012 that the Evening News revealed what had been going on at Mortonhall. It led to two major inquiries and new laws to stop a similar scandal ever happening again.

The council has also unveiled design options for a memorial garden at Mortonhall and promised a second memorial elsewhere in the city.