Lord Bonomy report on baby ashes recommends new laws

Mortonhall Crematorium Mortonhall crematorium staff told parents there would be no ashes

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A report into the cremation of babies has recommended new laws and guidelines to protect bereaved families.

The Infant Cremation Commission, chaired by Lord Bonomy, made 64 recommendations, including an urgent review of cremation practices.

They include a statutory definition of ashes and regulation of cremation of babies of less than 24 weeks gestation.

The Scottish government has established a national investigation team to look into all the families allegations.

Public health minister Michael Matheson told the Scottish Parliament the team would be headed by former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini

Independent inspector

He said: "What the commission's report tells us is that there are variable practices across the country and in many cases, in the past, the interests of the baby and the bereaved family have not always been put first.

From Democracy Live: Public Health Minister Michael Matheson announces the new investigation team

"The Infant Cremation Commission has made important recommendations to ensure that never again will any parent have to experience the pain of not knowing what happened to their baby's ashes.

"However, I am acutely aware that, for many parents, questions remain about what happened in the past and that some still want their individual cases looked at."

Patrick McGuire, from Thompsons Solicitors, who represents more than 200 families affected by the baby ashes scandal, said: "This announcement from the minister is very welcome.

"It's what the families that I represent have been asking for. Dame Elish Angiolini did an excellent job investigating malpractice at Mortonhall crematorium and we have no doubt that she will do the same with her recently announced National Investigation Unit.

"The families are particularly pleased that she will look closely at each individual case and as far as possible give every family the answers they are looking for.

"We are also reassured that those people across Scotland who are identified as being responsible for this scandal will now be properly held to account. "

'Further uncertainty'

Lord Bonomy's report also said better records were needed in hospitals, funeral parlours and crematoria.

It recommended a national code of practice for infant and baby cremations and said an independent inspector should be appointed to monitor working practices at crematoria.

ashes memory Some parents face never knowing for sure where the ashes of their baby were laid to rest

The report came after the discovery that the ashes of hundreds of babies were disposed of without their parents' knowledge.

The problem first emerged at Mortonhall in Edinburgh, but there were also cases in Aberdeen, Fife and Glasgow.

Families have been told they may never find out what happened to their babies' remains.

In Aberdeen earlier this month, a "serious allegation" concerning the "joint cremation of babies and adults" was made about Hazlehead Crematorium.

New council chief executive Angela Scott said the findings of an earlier independent audit would now have to be reconsidered.

The council apologised for the "further uncertainty".

Aberdeen City Council announced earlier this year that it had changed its procedures, including using baby trays, so ashes could now be recovered.

Some staff in the past refused to use the trays on health and safety grounds, claiming there was an increased risk of being burned when removing them.

The Institute of Cemetery and Cremation Management, which was represented on the commission, said defining what constituted ashes was fundamental to improving the cremation of babies.

Chief executive Tim Morris said imposing new laws would remove different interpretations that existed across Scotland about the cremation practices appropriate for babies.

Urgent steps

The report stated: "Death always evokes grief. To some, it brings release and, to their families, relief from the distress of observing a loved one in decline and pain.

"For others, the grief and distress of suffering untimely bereavement can seem unbearable. That is particularly so for many who suffer the loss of a longed-for and much-loved baby at, or before, birth or in the early months of life.

"To learn later of uncertainty about the existence and disposal of their babies' ashes has compounded the grief, caused further distress to many, and given rise to mixed emotions in others.

"That highlights the importance of taking steps urgently to ensure that future cremations of babies are handled with sensitivity that has due regard to the duty to lay their remains to rest as and where their families wish."

Dorothy Maitland The scandal was first uncovered by Dorothy Maitland, whose daughter Kaelen was cremated at Edinburgh's Mortonhall 25 years ago

Lord Bonomy was asked to look at cremation practices across the whole country.

More than 250 families are thought to have been affected by the issue at Mortonhall.

Former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini reported on the situation there.

She concluded that some parents would never know the final resting place of their babies because the remains had been buried without their knowledge.

Sue Bruce, Edinburgh City Council's chief executive, said: "We welcome Lord Bonomy's report, which makes some very constructive recommendations.

"Our own Mortonhall working group has held several positive meetings and produced an action plan, which will be discussed by the council next week.

"We will continue to work closely with the Scottish government to ensure that our actions are consistent with the recommendations of Lord Bonomy."

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    Text your views to 80295, email newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk, or tweet #ScotlandLive 10:23: Carrier bag charge -Your Views

    Carol, Largs: In Ireland, clothing etc is packed in recyclable paper bags. You're only charged for plastic bags in the supermarkets.

    Lorna, Stirling: I will be paying for a new bag when I buy clothing. This is taking it too far.

    Lee, Perth: I can't believe that people are moaning about a 5p bag! Seriously, if that all you've got to worry about in your life you can afford to pay for a 5p bag.

     
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  62.  
    Text 80295 09:54: Carrier bag charge - Your Views

    Glyn Evans, Beauly: 5p for a bag won't make much of a difference! Charge 20p a bag up to a maximum of £1 in any one visit. Put the profits into a welfare fund to help the most impoverished and vulnerable children in the country. Admittedly, this creates a slight dilemma between Eco and charity but if these bags were biodegradable and marketed as multi-purpose (refuse bags, small bin liners etc etc) this could make a real difference to the welfare of many people in this country. All it takes is a wee change of mindset. Or is that too socialist for today's capitalist society?

     
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  64.  
    09:43: 'Tired' Aberdeen?

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    Aberdeen

    The Granite City is in the running for the 'Plook in the Plinth' prize, with Urban Realm describing it as "the place where architecture goes to die".

    Fellow nominees for "most dismal town" include Cumbernauld and Lochgelly.

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  65.  
    Text 80295 09:34: Carrier bag charge - Get Involved

    Elaine: M&S already charge 5p per bag and have been doing it for some time, it would seem, without much complaint. However, if I shop there I make sure I take my own bag which has now become a habit I don't even think about.

    Graham: It's all very well taxing carrier bags but what about the plastic bottles, fast food containers and cans? Just walk about our streets and look along our road network and see the mess. I'm Scottish but we are a dirty bunch. We need a general keep Scotland tidy campaign.

    H, Edinburgh: Yet another thing about the good auld days. Nae carrier bags when I wis wee. Jist get rid o them altogether. People will soon learn quick tae take a bag wi them.

     
  66.  
    newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 09:29: Scottish Labour - Your Views

    James Martin, Glasgow: The problem with Labour is that we do not know what they stand for, but know they stand against ANYTHING that any SNP MSP says at Holyrood, or what any Tory says in Westminster. Yet, when Labour complain, they don't provide ideas to fix the problem and expect to be elected, by default, as simply "the other party". I really do think the Labour Party now embodies everything that is seen as wrong in politicians: self-serving, void of ideas and putting party before the people.

     
  67.  
    09:26: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    tweets: CalMac weather warning overnight/tomorrow means Caledonian Isles will return to Brodick this evening to berth. Tomorrow 0700 ex Ardrossan.

     
  68.  
    09:18: Dementia care

    Speaking ahead of the conference on dementia in Glasgow today, health secretary Alex Neil said that Scotland is "leading the way" in care.

    Alex Neil

    However, he accepted that aspects of residence care rated "unsatisfactory" in the mental health commission report.

    "We are monitoring the implementation of these recommendations to make sure that those shortcomings are addressed quickly and comprehensively," said Mr Neil.

     
  69.  
    09:10: Once the referendum dust settles...

    On 19 September, hundreds of thousands of Scots woke up disappointed after the country voted to reject independence.

    Hope over Fear rally

    In the days before Scotland voted, political activity rocketed. In streets in the major cities, "Yes" and "No" campaigners gathered to rally their supporters and get their message across.

    How did it feel to be on the losing side? And where do they go from here?

     
  70.  
    09:01: Scottish Labour leadership Daily Record

    Tweets: Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy rules out challenging Johann Lamont for the leadership.

    Read the full story here.

     
  71.  
    08:56: Dementia summit

    Scotland's largest dementia conference is taking place in Glasgow today.

    dementia conference

    The four-day event aims to find ways of overcoming the stigma attached to the condition, which affects almost 90,000 people in Scotland.

    Tonight, the Glasgow Declaration - a commitment to promoting the rights of people living with dementia across Europe - will be signed.

     
  72.  
    08:51: Alternative view: Bag charge is 'wrong'

    Not everyone is happy about the plastic bag charge.

    Michael Laurier, director of plastics manufacturer Symphony Environmental, says the new law is wrong.

    "It denies people, for no real valid reason, their basic human rights," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland.

    "It's taking away an everyday product, that people don't use just once. They've already paid for within their shopping bill and getting them to pay for it again.

    "It also forces them to buy more bin liners. When you refer to the Irish experience, the consumption of shopping bags dropped from 90-95% but the sale of bin liners went up 400%."

     
  73.  
    newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 08:48: Carrier bag charge - Your Views

    Derek Reilly, Pontypridd: Frustrating charge - when you purchase clothes, no one has large bags. Beware: people will buy knives and not be willing to buy a bag so carry the knives around.

     
  74.  
    08:42: Football gossip

    West Ham manager Sam Allardyce is keeping tabs on Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk, reports the Scottish Sun.

    Celtic defender Virgil Van Dijk Are West Ham keen to 'hammer' out a deal with Celtic for defender Virgil van Dijk?

    This morning's back pages also mark Dave King's anticipated meeting in Glasgow this week with Rangers shareholder Mike Ashley.

    Read the rest of the sporting headlines in our newspaper round-up here.

     
  75.  
    08:37: Bag charge a 'major step forward'

    Calum Duncan, Scottish Programme Manager at the Marine Conservation Society, has welcomed the new 5p charge for single use carrier bags as a "major step forward".

    Plastic bags

    Speaking on Good Morning Scotland he said 750 million 'single use' carriers bags are used every year in Scotland.

    "That's the highest per person than anywhere else in the UK; and that's 150 per person, per year," Mr Duncan added.

    "They're used for only about 20 minutes but the average carrier bag can take over 1,000 years to break down and fragment."

    What do you think about the charge? Text 80295, email us here or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

     
  76.  
    08:30: Tune in... Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    Scottish Labour has found itself in a state of flux following the referendum. There have been rumours of challenges to leader Johann Lamont and former First Ministers Jack McConnell and Henry McLeish have urged the party to rediscover its "sense of purpose".

    Morning Call

    On today's programme I'm asking: has Scottish Labour lost its way? Also, is charging 5p for a carrier bag a waste of time?

    Give us a call on 0500 92 95 00 or text 80295.

    You can listen live to the programme, from 08:50, here.

     
  77.  
    08:24: Today's papers

    The Scottish Daily Mail leads with suggestions that a collapse in support for Scottish Labour could cost it victory at next year's general election.

    Scotland's newspapers

    Meanwhile, The Scottish Sun features the results of an investigation by the paper into the commission paid to online comparison sites.

    Read the rest of our newspaper round-up here.

     
  78.  
    08:16: 'Oh... Vienna'

    Andy Murray came from a set down to beat David Ferrer 5-7 6-2 7-5 in the final of the Vienna Open.

    The victory means the Scot moves ahead of Ferrer in the race to qualify for the World Tour Finals.

    Murray, 27, broke his opponent three times in the final set before holding his nerve to serve out the match and win only his second title of the year.

    Andy Murray following his Vienna Open title

    "It was a good finish to the week," Murray told BBC Radio 5 live after a match that lasted two hours 42 minutes," said the Scot.

    "It was a very long match and both of us were in the locker room struggling, limping around and very stiff and sore so it was a nice one to get through."

     
  79.  
    08:12: Starting salaries

    Starting pay for new recruits has been rising strongly, data on Scotland's labour market shows.

    It found that the numbers available for work had been falling while employers took on more staff.

    The Bank of Scotland survey for September saw weaker growth than in the previous three months.

    The number of vacancies grew, but at the slowest pace for 11 months.

    Glasgow had the highest growth in pay for permanent new recruits, and Dundee had the fastest rise in pay for those on temporary contracts.

     
  80.  
    08:08: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Stop-start at times westbound #A720 Edinburgh City by-pass Gilmerton to Dreghorn - about 5 miles of queuing traffic.

     
  81.  
    Text 80295 08:04: Carrier bag charge - Your Views

    PB, Glasgow: 5p a bag? About time. Next we want £500 a mile for every private car poisoning the air that we breathe!

    Jimmy in Alloa: Come off it guys, a 5p charge on plastic bags means we'll be paying twice the cost. The bags are already costed into the price of the goods we purchase.

     
  82.  
    08:03: How's the weather looking? BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Morning all, Gillian here. Scattered showers today, mainly in the West; drier & brighter in the East. Temperature between 12-15C. Winds strengthening later.

     
  83.  
    08:00: Carrier bag charge

    A mandatory carrier bag charge has been introduced in Scotland for the first time.

    Shoppers will now have to pay a minimum of 5p per bag, with net proceeds to be donated to good causes.

    Carrier bag

    In May, MSPs voted to bring in the new regulations in an effort to tackle Scotland's litter problem.

    In addition to plastic bags, the fee has also been imposed on single-use carriers made from eco-friendly materials.

    The minimum charge applies to all retailers, not just supermarkets.

    Wales became the first part of the UK to introduce a minimum charge for single-use carrier bags in 2011, followed by Northern Ireland last year.

     
  84.  
    07:59: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and a warm welcome from the Scotland Live team. We'll bring you a comprehensive round up of the latest news, sport, travel and weather between now and 18:00.

     

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