‘We must hope some good can come from this’

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The practice at Mortonhall Crematorium exposed by the Evening News today is nothing short of scandalous.

It is simply impossible to fathom the thought process behind denying grieving parents the right to their child’s ashes.

For up to 45 years, people who have suffered what must be the worst heartbreak imaginable have been told there are no remains to scatter.

The majority have no doubt learned to accept this and been forced to continue to grieve in their own way, without a special place to visit, nowhere to lay flowers, nowhere to sit and remember.

There have been hundreds over the years, hundreds of families who have been failed in an unimaginably cruel way.

As we now know, there were ashes and they were kept, without the knowledge of the parents.

The remains were disposed of by staff, apparently buried in cardboard boxes in a mass unmarked grave.

People like Dorothy Maitland and Helen Henderson, whose stories we feature today, have not just been lied to, they have been robbed of the chance of a degree of closure and peace in the grieving process.

There will be a full inquiry to
determine how a council-run facility could have got it so wrong for so long.

This must be swift, thorough and completely transparent.

We need to know why this policy – if indeed it was a policy – was in place. On the face of it, there seems to be absolutely no justification.

Who was responsible for making this decision and when?

Why has no member of staff ever challenged this practice over the years when other crematoriums do not operate in this way?

Why has no-one ever questioned telling parents that “you don’t get any ashes from a baby” when that is simply untrue?

The inquiry process will be painful for everyone, most of all for the families involved, but it is vital to ensure the truth comes out.

We must also hope that some good can come from this, with moves for a permanent memorial 
which families can at last visit if they wish.

The city council may yet find itself facing costly legal action because of a decision which was perhaps made by someone decades ago, but in truth no amount of money will compensate those involved.

We should remember that this scandal has exposed not just how they have been failed but how the city has failed the most vulnerable members of society – the babies who were denied life by fate have been denied dignity in death.