NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Aberdeen baby ashes scandal parent calls for more transparency

Hazlehead crematoria

The father of a baby who died has called on Aberdeen City Council to publish a report into how officials handled ashes at a crematorium.

BBC Scotland revealed the critical external report in the baby ashes scandal will not be published.

It followed the council being heavily criticised a report by Dame Elish Angiolini in June into the handling of ashes of cremated babies.

Paul Wells, who lost son Scott to cot death, said transparency was needed.

A report to Aberdeen councillors reveals chief executive Angela Scott is investigating senior lines of responsibility and will decide what action, if any, to take.

It will be discussed on Wednesday.

However a second report to the council, understood to be heavily critical of some of those in charge, will remain secret because it contains confidential details of the conduct of staff.

'Promised honesty'

Former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini's original report described as "abhorrent" the routine practice of cremating babies bodies with unrelated adults.

The director responsible for the department which includes Hazlehead crematorium, Pete Leonard, was quoted by investigators referring to "slow cooking" babies for which he has since been heavily criticised.

Families touched by the baby ashes scandal in Aberdeen have since met with the chief executive.

Mr Wells told BBC Scotland: "Angela Scott promised transparency and honesty and now there's a second report they are going to keep secret.

"Even if they feel the need to take out names, this report needs to be made public."

Image copyright Aberdeen City Council
Image caption A report was commissioned in June by chief executive Angela Scott

Angela Scott told BBC Scotland: "I understand the public desire to have a sense that people are being held to account.

"I am in the middle of a live process."

'Follow the law'

Asked about any public doubts over the report not being published, she said: "Having met a number of families, I absolutely understand.

"But it's important we follow the law."

She said she was satisfied with the pace the investigation was proceeding.

Dame Elish Angiolini prepared the 400-page national cremation investigation, which was commissioned by the Scottish government.

BBC Scotland revealed in 2013 that no ashes had been offered to the families of infants cremated in Aberdeen over a five-year period.

Baby and adult ashes were mixed together and given back to relatives of the adult, while the parents of infants were told there were no ashes.

The crematorium at Hazlehead in Aberdeen was among those investigated after it emerged staff at the Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh had been burying baby ashes in secret for decades.

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