Mortonhall parents barred from petitioning at school

Mortonhall Cemetery
Mortonhall Cemetery
Have your say

GRIEVING parents are being denied the chance to collect signatures at school for a petition demanding a public inquiry into the Mortonhall ashes scandal.

City chiefs revealed they would view any attempt to promote the petition on school grounds as campaigning, which they said is forbidden from all council premises.

The Evening News understands that a teacher at the Capital’s Niddrie Mill Primary was approached by a mother bearing the petition and asked to circulate it.

But the shocked parent was told staff could not support the petition at school and that “action” would be taken against any teacher who did not comply.

The policy was slammed by leaders of the Mortonhall Ashes Action Committee (MAAC), which is pushing for a Scottish Government-led inquiry into the failure of bosses at the council-owned crematorium to pass on babies’ ashes over a 45-year period.

MAAC chair Willie Reid said the council’s policy amounted to a “gagging”.

He said: “If it’s true, this undermines those staff that are affected by Mortonhall.

“Would it not break the human right of freedom of speech for the council not to allow its staff to sign the petition at school?

“They say they want things to be open and independent, but how is it open and independent if the council is gagging its own staff?”

But the policy was defended by council leaders as an “appropriate” measure given public sensitivity over the scandal.

Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “I think if people wish to sign a petition then that should be outwith the council workplace.

“Some people in schools or other council premises may have lost a child who was then cremated at Mortonhall, or know someone who has. Something like this that was passed round at school could bring it all back.

“Mortonhall is a very personal matter for many people in terms of their own experience and I think something like a petition asking for a public inquiry could bring back something very painful.

“If people want to sign the petition then they are free to do it at home, or on their computers.”