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Aberdeen Crematorium staff feel victimised over baby ashes inquiry

Hazlehead crematoria

An inspection of Aberdeen Crematorium has found some staff believe they were "victims" of the national investigation into the disposal of infant remains.

A visit by Inspector of Crematoria Scotland Robert Swanson was made three days after the publication of the national investigation report.

That inquiry, by Dame Elish Angiolini, uncovered "unethical and abhorrent practices" at Aberdeen Crematorium.

Mr Swanson said he found "good practice" in the cremation of babies.

But he warned the "air needs to be cleared" over the concerns and attitudes of staff.

Mr Swanson said: "In this instance focus was given to examining current procedures and working practices in place at Aberdeen Crematorium to assess what changes have been implemented to ensure that there will be no repeat of the unethical and abhorrent practices described in the report by the Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini.

"The inspection found the operational procedures to be of a good standard with no evidence of current working practices which are comparable to those described in the Report of the National Cremation Investigation."

The Angiolini report led to an apology by Aberdeen City Council chief executive Angela Scott and an urgent inspection by Mr Swanson.

Dame Elish found in some cases that an infant coffin was placed at the side of or on top of an unrelated adult coffin and both cremated together.

Many staff had the "extraordinary belief" there would be no recovered ashes from babies up to the age of 18 months despite the fact they were recovered in other crematoriums.

Mr Swanson observed: "Of most concern to the Inspector was being advised that a number of the five employees currently working at the Crematorium, who were in post during the period subject to the investigation, regard themselves as being 'the victims'.

"Staff were clearly very apprehensive about what the future holds for them and intimated that a representative of their 'Union' was in attendance that day.

"It is the opinion of the Inspector that if public confidence in the Cremation Authority and the Crematorium is to be restored, then the 'air needs to be cleared' with staff at the earliest opportunity."

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