Lord Bonomy report on baby ashes recommends new laws

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

Related Stories

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."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Edinburgh, Fife and East

Weather

Edinburgh

7 °C 5 °C

Scotland Live

  1.  
    09:05: Flying the flag

    A Berwickshire councillor has asked whether flags other than the Saltire can be flown on the Scottish side of the border with England.

    Scottish and English flag

    Michael Cook has made the inquiry regarding provision at Lamberton on the boundary between the Scottish Borders and Northumberland.

    He said three Saltires currently fly on the Scottish side.

    Mr Cook asked whether a county flag of Berwickshire or the union jack could also be flown north of the border.

     
  2.  
    @BBCRadioScot Coming up...

    Today on #MorningCall: Would you welcome more organisations having access to your personal data? Call 0500 92 95 00.

    Morning Call

    Listen live to the programme here.

     
  3.  
    08:48: What's on the back pages?

    The Rangers extraordinary general meeting will go ahead despite shareholder Dave King claiming a "landslide" victory in his bid to get rid of the current board, reports The Scotsman.

    Scott Allan

    Former Motherwell and Rangers defender Craig Paterson has urged Scotland manager Gordon Strachan to give Hibernian's Scott Allan a call-up.

    And Celtic will offer goalkeeper Craig Gordon a new long-term deal to fend off interest from English clubs.

     
  4.  
    Text using 80295 Council shake-up - Your views

    Gordie, Glenrothes: With councils leaving Cosla, the councils no longer overseeing a local police service, social work moving from councils to integrate with health and financial challenges, the Scottish government will now have the confidence to reduce the number of councils in Scotland! We don't need 32, with 32 chief executives, directors of education, directors of housing etc.

     
  5.  
    08:31: Tourism centre closed

    A trend towards tourists accessing information online has been cited as a reason behind plans to shut a south of Scotland visitor centre.

    Tourism office

    Dumfries and Galloway councillors are being asked to agree to close a face-to-face service in Newton Stewart.

    It comes after usage figures showed a 66% drop in footfall over the past five years.

    A 12-month pilot of providing visitor information at another site in the town is being proposed.

     
  6.  
    08:20: Fan ownership Alasdair Lamont BBC Scotland

    Fan representation in Scottish football has been in the news a lot recently, with the Rangers Supporters Trust and Rangers First building their shareholding at Ibrox.

    Ian Murray

    Often, fan ownership comes about from a crisis situation at a club, such as has happened with Rangers and Hearts.

     
  7.  
    08:12: Read all about it

    There are taxing issues on the front of a number of Scottish newspapers on Wednesday.

    The Scotsman says that Nicola Sturgeon has ditched the SNP government's flagship pledge to slash big business taxes in Scotland.

    Wednesday's front pages

    As the first minister unveiled her economic vision for Scotland, she revealed a change in stance on corporation tax, focusing on "targeted changes in tax allowances" rather than a "blanket approach".

    The Herald says that UK chancellor George Osborne has come under intense pressure from business chiefs to reverse in full his controversial tax grab on the embattled North Sea oil and gas industry.

    Read the rest of our newspaper round-up here.

     
  8.  
    08:04: Goulding to perform at Glasgow festival

    Ellie Goulding will perform at the Glasgow Summer Sessions festival later this year.

    Ellie Goulding

    Goulding, who is currently top of the charts with her song Love Me Like You Do, will support headliner Calvin Harris and will take to the stage in Bellahouston Park on Sunday, 30 August.

    John Newman, Disciples and Burns will also perform.

    Tickets go on sale this Friday.

     
  9.  
    08:02: Swinney defends database plans

    Deputy First Minister John Swinney, in response to concerns over plans for a super database, told Good Morning Scotland that the proposal is "not a new database".

    John Swinney

    He added: "The database that is proposed to be used under this system is the NHS National Register, which has existed since the 1950s.

    "What we are trying to do is make it possible and practical for members of the public to access public services online, and being able to do that safely and securely.

    "Public bodies will not be able to interrogate some database, they will not be able to look through peoples' records. It is a verification and matching system to make sure we are delivering public services online to individuals who require and are entitled to those services."

     
  10.  
    07:55: High note for Calvin Harris fans

    Calvin Harris has been announced as the first headline act for Glasgow's Summer Sessions.

    The Scots DJ will take to the stage at Bellhouston Park on 30 August.

    Calvin Harris

    Summer Sessions is Scotland's only annual outdoor city music festival.

    Last year, The Killers, and DJs David Guetta and Steve Angello performed to more than 100,000 people at Bellahouston across three dates. Tickets for the 2015 event go on sale on Friday.

     
  11.  
    07:50: 'Stick to talking to Cosla'

    With news that four councils are leaving the local government umbrella group Cosla, to join a rival body, Professor Richard Kerley, chair of the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, predicts an "unpredictable future".

    "This has gone on for some considerable time," he told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland.

    "It seems to me that some of their (the four councils) arguments for being very important are not really material to what the Scottish government is going to want to know, which is: which representative organisation do we discuss local government matters with?

    Council gritter

    "I assume, at the moment, they will stick to talking to Cosla, which will continue to represent 28 councils.

    "Aberdeen has for many years now argued that it receives a lesser amount of financial support from the Scottish government than it is due to than other councils do.

    "The objective criteria used to determine most of that distribution don't favour Aberdeen. It has pockets of poverty, that's undeniable, there are people living in Aberdeen who are struggling.

    "But, by and large, it's a very prosperous area; [it has] little in common with Glasgow, Renfrewshire and to a certain extent South Lanarkshire."

    Cosla insists the move is not the end for the umbrella group and that the four councils will be welcome back any time.

     
  12.  
    07:44: 'Creeping' towards identity cards

    Plans for a new identity database are to be debated by MSPs later amid civil liberty concerns.

    Willie Rennie

    Under the proposals more than 100 public bodies, including HMRC, would be able to access adults' private data on the NHS Central Register (NHSCR).

    One of the politicians opposed to the scheme is the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

    The MSP told Good Morning Scotland: "The main concern is the creeping nature towards a single number - a universal database - right across the public sector. It is one small step away from creating an identity card.

    "I know the Scottish government say they are against identity cards, but these are identity cards in all but name."

     
  13.  
    07:38: Play to champion disabled acting

    A play featuring a number of disabled actors is set to take to the stage in Dundee.

    Thousands of pounds has been spent improving disabled access at the city's Rep Theatre for the new production of Blood Wedding.

    Dundee play rehearsal

    The cast includes deaf actors and wheelchair users, and is backed by the Graeae Theatre Company, which promotes the work of disabled thespians.

    Blood Wedding runs at the Dundee Rep until 14 March.

     
  14.  
    07:30: Man arrested over bus sex attacks

    A 36-year-old man has been arrested in connection with alleged sexual assaults in the city centre of Glasgow.

    It comes after police released images of a man they were keen to trace in relation to a series of incidents on buses in the city.

    Three women were allegedly assaulted between 19 and 27 November last year.

     
  15.  
    07:28: SSE donation 'window dressing'

    An organisation campaigning for cheaper electricity charges for people living on the Western isles has criticised a £40,000 donation from SSE to a charity.

    light bulb

    The money will be used by Energy Action Scotland to raise awareness of the help available to people struggling to pay their household fuel bills.

    Describing the money as "window dressing", Western Isles Poverty Action Group said SSE could afford to do more.

    SSE said the donation was aimed at helping its most vulnerable customers.

     
  16.  
    @BBCScotWeather Ice risk BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Take care this morning, folks - widespread risk of ice.

    Ice warning
     
  17.  
    07:22: Forth Bridge birthday

    On its 125th birthday, we have published a selection of your best pictures of the Forth Bridge.

    Forth Bridge

    The cantilever railway bridge which spans the Firth of Forth from nine miles (14 km) west of Edinburgh city centre to North Queensferry in Fife, is one of Scotland's most famous landmarks.

    A fly-past by a Spitfire and an RAF Typhoon will mark the 125th anniversary at 13.25 GMT.

     
  18.  
    07:14: Transparency call over principals' pay

    The University and College Union (UCU) Scotland claims Scottish universities have broken promises made on transparency over principals' pay.

    university principal

    It says over two-thirds of universities refused to provide full minutes of the committee meetings where pay was set.

    The union is urging the Scottish government to intervene.

    Universities Scotland says remuneration committees' policies were set by the universities' governing bodies, which included staff and students.

     
  19.  
    @BBCTravelScot Rail delays BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    ScotRail:

    • speed restriction between High Street and Glasgow Queen Street - 10 min delays - all day
    • 07:23 Elgin/Inverness cancelled
    • 07:36 Carstairs/Dalmuir cancelled
    • replacement buses to Glasgow Central, one to stations, one direct.
     
  20.  
    07:08: Councils plan to leave Cosla

    Confirmation is expected later from Aberdeen Council that it is leaving Cosla, the local government umbrella group, to join a rival body.

    The Labour-led council is expected to form a new negotiating group with three other Labour councils: Glasgow, Renfrewshire and South Lanarkshire.

    Successive administrations at Aberdeen have expressed dissatisfaction over their relations with Cosla.

    It says the four councils will be welcome back at any time.

     
  21.  
    07:06: Dungavel detentions Calum McKay BBC Scotland

    Dozens of asylum seekers have been held at Dungavel immigration removal centre (IRC) in South Lanarkshire for months, figures released to BBC Scotland reveal.

    Dungavel, near Strathaven in South Lanarkshire, opened in 2001

    In some cases detainees were held for more than a year.

    The figures come as MPs have called for a limit on the time someone can be detained under immigration powers.

    The Home Office said it only detains people for the shortest period necessary.

     
  22.  
    @BBCScotWeather Ice warning BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Good morning! Gillian, here. Watch out for ice this morning. Still a scattering of showers during am, mostly dry with sunshine by afternoon. 6-8C.

     
  23.  
    07:01: Super ID database

    Plans for a new identity database are to be debated by MSPs amid civil liberty concerns.

    identity database

    Under the proposals more than 100 public bodies, including HMRC, would be able to access adults' private data on the NHS Central Register (NHSCR).

    Opposition parties argue the move amounts to identity cards by the "back door".

    A consultation on the issue closed last week and the Scottish government has promised to "listen to all concerns".

     
  24.  
    07:00: Here we go... Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and a warm welcome to Wednesday's Scotland Live.

    News, sport, travel and weather between now and 19:00, with a sprinkling of your views on the day's events...

     

Features

  • forth bridgeIn pictures

    Your reflections on the Forth bridge at 125


  • Elderly manSuicide decline

    The number of old people killing themselves has fallen. Why?


  • Petrol pumpPumping up

    Why are petrol prices rising again?


  • Image of George from Tube CrushTube crush

    How London's male commuters set Chinese hearts racing


  • TricycleTreasure trove

    The lost property shop stuffed with diamonds, bikes... and a leg


Elsewhere on the BBC

Programmes

  • Kinetic sculpture violinClick Watch

    The "kinetic sculpture" that can replicate digital files and play them on a violin

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.