Martin Hannan: Censor’s pen is not acceptable

Have your say

It may be of little comfort to the parents of those children whose ashes were discarded at Mortonhall crematorium, but their fight for justice looks like having a successful conclusion, at least in the sense that they will find out tomorrow who did what and when.

They will also be pleased, I’m sure, that there is going to be a change in the way that councils deal with children’s remains in future. That is a victory for them, and well deserved, too.

The report by Dame Elish Angiolini (pictured right) will be published tomorrow and all I know is that it is thorough and detailed, and criticism is levelled against the responsible parties. In short, it is not a whitewash, though I am perturbed by reports that some sections will be censored or redacted, apparently to forestall legal action against the city council.

You can usually tell that an inquiry report contains some devastating findings against a council or government department by the fact that nothing leaks before the date of publication, and it does appear at this stage that nothing important from the report has leaked.

The Angiolini Report must therefore be pretty explosive, and thankfully it has a chance of being aired in public without the usual fuss and bother that usually precede the publication of such sensitive items.

This I will say – any form of censorship will render the whole exercise invalid, and lead to accusations of a cover-up on the part of the council, and if even one line of the report is redacted, I will be leading the calls for heads to roll. And that’s “heads” as in current council staff or councillors.

Any thought that the council will avoid legal action can be forgotten, however, for the parents of the dead children will keep up the pressure, not least for compensation for the pain and misery inflicted on them by those responsible. They also want a full public inquiry, though I suspect the Angiolini Report may possibly be sufficient for the apportioning of blame and that could satisfy their demands.

Again if there is a cover up, the parents will have the right to seek a judicial review and if they have to go to court for that review, they will win, of that I have no doubt.

So let us hope that the report is published in full and that everything connected with this scandal is brought out into the open.

Lord Bonomy’s report on the national implications of the scandal is also due to be published soon and as Ian Swanson has revealed in these pages, his Lordship’s recommendations are such that there is likely to be a change in the law so that there can be no recurrence of the disgraceful way the cremations were handled at Mortonhall and elsewhere.

There will be those who will say that once the law is changed, the scandal can be put behind us. I disagree – some may think it is all history, but the parents of those dead babies are living with the pain now and will do so for the rest of their lives.

And yes, councils must be prepared to pay compensation to those parents, even though nothing can ever really compensate them for the pain they have suffered and are still suffering.

What would Hamish make of Sunshine on Leith tears?

Memorial services for public figures are usually a strange mixture of sadness and celebration, but I cannot remember any such service that was so intensely moving as that for Margo MacDonald at the Assembly Hall on Friday.

Being unable to attend, I tuned into the coverage and during the tributes I was on the verge of tears on several occasions, and chortled at other times as people like Alex Neil recalled my fellow News columnist. When the Proclaimers started Sunshine on Leith, which I have always considered the best Scottish love song since Burns wrote Ae Fond Kiss, I was glad I was on my own, though I wonder what our dog Hamish made of his greetin’-faced master.

If you’ve got to go, go now..

As an SNP member and Yes campaigner, I take no pleasure in the fact that CBI Scotland’s director Iain McMillan is to step down from his tarnished position.

McMillan has been at pains to point out that his resignation “by the end of the year” was already in train and had nothing to do with the farce of the CBI signing up to to campaign – and spend members ’ money – on the case for a No vote.

In that case I have only this to say. McMillan must go now, for CBI Scotland will continue to be seen as an anti-independence organisation until he’s gone.

Mills is missing a big opportunity

You have to hand it to International Festival director Jonathan Mills.

He said his Festival would not feature anything about the independence referendum that takes place a mere 19 days after the event finishes, and unless I’ve missed it, the programme doesn’t even mention it – missed opportunity and big mistake, methinks.

Off target

We’re still waiting on word from Edinburgh Zoo about the potential tryst between the two pandas. If they don’t hurry up they’ll be remembered by that famous panda phrase: eats shoots and leaves.