Mum who uncovered ashes scandal welcomes reform

Mortonhall Crematorium where parents were told there were no ashes. Picture: Neil Hanna
Mortonhall Crematorium where parents were told there were no ashes. Picture: Neil Hanna
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THE mother who first uncovered the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal today welcomed reforms of infant cremation and said many parents were now ready to “move on”.

Dorothy Maitland, operations director of bereavement support charity Sands Lothian, backed the proposals from Lord Bonomy’s commission, including closer oversight and a register to ensure traceability of ashes, and praised the Scottish Government’s swift acceptance of his recommendations.

A national committee is to be established, with members including affected parents, to be responsible for infant cremations and draw up a national code of practice. An independent inspector will be appointed to monitor working practices and standards at ­crematoria.

Public Health Minister Michael Matheson announced former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini, who led a council-sponsored inquiry into events at Mortonhall, was now to lead a national investigation team to give parents all over Scotland the same kind of answers that she had already provided for those affected in Edinburgh.

It was in December 2012 that the Evening News revealed, after being contacted by Ms Maitland, how countless bereaved parents had been told there were nothing left following their children’s cremation, while in fact their ashes were being buried in cardboard boxes.

Ms Maitland, who lost one of her twin daughters 26 years ago, campaigned for parents to be told the truth about what had happened.

Following Dame Elish’s report in April, yesterday’s report from the Bonomy Commission made 64 recommendations, including procedures for arranging infant cremations, guidance on the process and clearer information for parents on the likelihood of ashes being recoverable.

Ms Maitland said: “I’m very happy with the report and what Michael Matheson said. And it’s good that Dame Elish is going to be involved with the other parents.

“They are going to look at training in quite a big way, for all the professionals that are involved. I’ve already had a meeting with the NHS who are looking at revamping all their literature and making sure parents are fully informed.”

She said she was “very confident” there could no be no repeat of the traumatic experiences the Mortonhall parents had endured.

She said she felt there was no need now for a public inquiry,

She said: “Certainly for the Mortonhall parents, we felt we have got the truth from Dame Elish and the government has taken it very seriously. I think the Mortonhall parents feel it’s time to try and heal and move on from it.”

Accepting the Bonomy recommendations, Mr Matheson promised changes in the law, including a clear legal definition of ashes, would be included in a new burials and cremations bill already promised and said consultation on it would begin by the end of the year.