Shropshire

Shrewsbury crematorium baby ashes probe led by ex-council chief

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Media captionOlivia Perkins died in 2007

An ex-council chief has been appointed to head a probe into why a crematorium failed to recover ashes from baby cremations for more than a decade.

The investigation into Emstrey Crematorium in Shrewsbury will be led by former Dorset County Council chief executive David Jenkins.

It comes after the BBC found just one out of 30 sets of ashes were given to babies' families since 2004.

The inquiry, commissioned by Shropshire Council, is due to begin on Wednesday.

But parents said they should have been consulted over the appointment.

"All we are asking for is a fair hearing," said Glen Perkins, founder of the Action for Ashes campaign group, which called for the inquiry.

'Truly independent'

Mr Perkins's four-month-old daughter Olivia was cremated at Emstrey Crematorium in December 2007 but the family was told by the funeral director there would be no remains.

He said he did not trust the council investigation to be truly independent or rigorous.

"I think the hardest thing to presume is that we will get an answer about what happened to Olivia," he said.

"I don't think I will ever know.

"I can look at her picture but I can't go where she should be and that hurts."

'Right person'

Mr Jenkins, a solicitor who has led reviews of other authorities and public service organisations, was recommended for the role by the Local Government Association.

The inquiry findings are due to be published in April.

Shropshire Council leader Keith Barrow said: "I'm really pleased that David has agreed to chair the inquiry and I'm confident that he is the right person to carry out this very important role.

"He has all the right experience and qualifications and, importantly, is independent."

Emstrey Crematorium has been managed by Co-Operative Funeralcare on behalf of Shropshire Council since 2009.

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