UK & World News

  • 30 April 2014, 17:23

Baby Ashes: Parents' 'Lifetime Of Uncertainty'

Hundreds of bereaved parents are facing a "lifetime of uncertainty" about what happened to their baby's remains.

Parents of still and newborn babies who had died were lied to by staff at the council-run Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh and told there were no ashes to scatter.

However, in what the head of a inquiry into the practices there called a "great tragedy", it transpired the remains had been buried or scattered for decades without the knowledge of families.

Former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolinion Wednesday presented a 600-page report into what went on at the Mortonhall Crematorium between 1967 and 2011 and what happened to the remains of 253 babies.

The report said: "The outcome of this investigation will cause more pain and distress for most of the parents of the 253 babies who are the subject of this investigation.

"It cannot be said with any certainty what remains of which babies are interred in the garden of remembrance.

"The precise extent to which remains of babies have been mixed in with an adult cremation that followed the baby's cremation is also unknown but appears likely to be extensive."

It added: "The great tragedy of these events over many years is that many parents will now be left with a lifetime of uncertainty about their baby's final resting place."

When the scandal erupted in December 2012, Edinburgh Council informed families that their infants' ashes had actually been buried in a garden of remembrance at the crematorium.

However, the report found the only baby remains that were definitely in the garden were those of the non-viable foetuses buried together in 2013.

The report made 22 recommendations including that Edinburgh Council should review the way the crematorium is managed and ensure a tougher system of inspection.

Dorothy Maitland, Operations Manager of the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS), is among parents who were lied to.

Following the death of her daughter Kaelen she was told there were no ashes to hand over.

It was 26 years later that she was told that Kaelen's ashes had been scattered at Mortonhall without her knowledge.

She told Sky News: "You're grieving for your baby. You're grieving for the fact you've let her down, because especially as a mother you should make things right for your children."

Gary McDougall's son Fraser died at birth and was cremated at Mortonhall.

Since discovering that ashes existed 18 months ago he has been given three different versions about what was done with them.

Mr McDougall told Sky News: "They gave us a piece of paper saying they'd been interred.

"We were then told that the ashes were scattered, and then we were told they were laid in the rose garden. Who do you believe?

"Three different versions of what they've done. Again, more lies."

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