NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Baby ashes director not at council meeting on secret report

Pete Leonard
Image caption Pete Leonard was not at the meeting

The director responsible for a crematorium at the centre of the baby ashes scandal did not attend a council meeting discussing a secret report.

Pete Leonard, head of the council department which includes Aberdeen's Hazlehead Crematorium, was said to be on annual leave.

A summary of the report was shown to councillors. It was then taken back.

Council chief executive Angela Scott said the pain of bereaved families would stay with her "forever".

Mr Leonard was quoted by investigators as referring to "slow cooking" babies - comments for which he has since been heavily criticised.

The new report to the council will remain secret because it contains confidential details of the conduct of staff.

Councillors were given about 10 minutes to read a summary of external report. It was then taken back as they are not allowed to keep it.

Council leader Jenny Laing said of the report: "Every one of us would like nothing better than to make its contents known to the public."

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

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

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

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

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