Cre­mated ba­bies mixed with ashes of un­re­lated adults

The Daily Telegraph - - News -

A CRE­MA­TO­RIUM told griev­ing par­ents that it could not give them the ashes of their ba­bies, and cre­mated in­fants to­gether with un­re­lated adults, an in­quiry has found.

Dame Elish An­gi­olini looked at more than 200 cases of in­fant cre­ma­tion for a re­port com­mis­sioned by the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment fol­low­ing a scan­dal at Mor­ton­hall in Ed­in­burgh, where it emerged that the cre­ma­to­rium had se­cretly buried or scat­tered the ashes of ba­bies for decades with­out the knowl­edge of their fam­i­lies.

Be­reaved par­ents had been told there would be no ashes pro­duced and other lo­cal au­thor­i­ties in­clud­ing Aberdeen city coun­cil were sub­se­quently im­pli­cated in sim­i­lar prac­tices.

Dame Elish, a for­mer lord ad­vo­cate, found “deeply shock­ing” prac­tices at Ha­zle­head Cre­ma­to­rium in Aberdeen. In some cases an in­fant’s cof­fin was placed be­side an un­re­lated adult’s cof­fin and both cre­mated to­gether. Many staff had the “ex­tra­or­di­nary be­lief ” that there would be no re­cov­ered ashes from ba­bies up to the age of 18 months de­spite the fact that they were re­cov­ered in other cre­ma­to­ri­ums.

The na­tional cre­ma­tion in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port said: “Like Mor­ton­hall, this was a sec­tion of the city coun­cil work­ing in al­most com­plete iso­la­tion with­out any strate­gic di­rec­tion, de­vel­op­ment or qual­ity con­trol of the ser­vice, so far as it re­lated to ba­bies, in­fants and non-vi­able foe­tuses.”

Dame Elish said: “The cre­ma­tion of ba­bies along with un­known adults is an un­eth­i­cal and ab­hor­rent prac­tice which will of­fend the sen­si­bil­i­ties of the wider com­mu­nity and cause great dis­tress to those whose ba­bies were cre­mated.

“It will also cause pro­found con­cern to the next of kin of un­re­lated adults who may have col­lected and con­tinue to re­tain ashes of loved ones cre­mated at Aberdeen which also con­tain the ashes of a baby or one or even sev­eral non-vi­able foe­tuses. The un­der­stand­ing that there were no ashes or that they could not be re­cov­ered was not ex­plained and is in­ex­pli­ca­ble.”

Fif­teen rec­om­men­da­tions were made in­clud­ing that a law be in­tro­duced to pre­vent the mix­ing of baby ashes with those of an­other per­son, crim­i­nal sanc­tions and tighter reg­u­la­tion of cre­ma­to­ri­ums.

The Scot­tish pub­lic health min­is­ter, Aileen Camp­bell, said: “Some of the his­toric prac­tices un­cov­ered in this re­port are un­ac­cept­able and, frankly, ap­palling.” She said leg­is­la­tion had been brought for­ward to over­haul pol­icy and prac­tice in buri­als and cre­ma­tions.

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