UK & World News
Babies' Ashes Secretly Buried In Garden
An investigation has begun into why an Edinburgh crematorium buried the ashes of cremated babies in a mass unmarked grave.
Staff at Mortonhall Crematorium lied to the bereaved parents of babies who were stillborn, or who died within six months, telling them there were no ashes to give back to them.
In fact, the babies' remains were buried in a garden of remembrance at the council-owned crematorium instead.
The reason for the deceit remains unexplained.
The discovery was made by chance during discussions between the crematorium's new management and the charity Sands, which counsels families who have experienced the death of a small child.
Officials told the charity's Dorothy Maitland that records showed the remains of her daughter Kaelen, who died when she was nine days old, had been buried in the crematorium's memorial garden.
This contradicted what she was told 26 years ago by crematorium staff.
When Ms Maitland asked for her daughter's ashes, they had lied that there were none to give.
It has since emerged that the refusal to give bereaved parents the ashes of cremated babies has been common practice at the crematorium, which opened in 1967.
The babies' ashes were instead routinely placed in cardboard boxes and buried.
The babies concerned were either stillborn or died before they were 24 weeks old.
Ms Maitland told Sky News: "I feel very let down and angry that I trusted these people. It's an absolute fiasco.
"There is, simply, no logic for denying parents their babies' ashes.
"I wasn't given the choice of where my daughter was laid to rest and we, as a family, don't feel that she is where we would want her to be.
"I feel I have let her down as a mother."
Edinburgh Council said the practice of refusing to give parents their babies' ashes ended with a change of management at the crematorium in May 2011.
The council has begun an investigation into what happened and why, amid estimates that hundreds of families could have been affected over the years.
In a statement, councillor Lesley Hinds, environment convener, said: "I want to offer my deepest apologies to all those families who have been affected by this dreadful and completely unacceptable situation.
"As soon as I became aware of this heart-breaking matter I met with Sands to express my sincere regret and reassure them I will do everything in my power to find out how this happened.
"It is reassuring that this practice no longer occurs, although nothing can ever fully make up for the hurt families may have suffered as a result of this unacceptable situation.
"We now need to establish exactly what has gone on previously and how it was allowed to happen. We are already discussing with Sands some form of memorial as a mark of respect."
The Sands charity has taken calls from more than 50 concerned parents since the revelations surrounding the crematorium emerged.