NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

'Proper accountability' needed over Aberdeen baby ashes scandal

Hazlehead Crematorium
Image caption The parents of infants cremated at Hazlehead were told there were no ashes

The SNP group leader at Aberdeen City Council has called for a "proper level of accountability" over the baby ashes scandal.

Stephen Flynn said it was "beyond disappointing" that no progress had yet been made.

The director of the department running Aberdeen's Hazlehead Crematorium, Pete Leonard, is on sick leave.

Baby and adult ashes were mixed together at the crematorium and given back to relatives of the adult.

The parents of infants were told there were no ashes.

Mr Leonard did not attend the council meeting in August 2016 which discussed his department's conduct.

He has not been back at work since, and is on sick leave.

Image caption Pete Leonard's duties included overseeing Hazlehead Crematorium

Mr Flynn said: "It has now been a number of months since the true, and horrific, extent of this issue came to fore and whilst everyone can agree that practices have now changed and steps to compensate the families have been taken, we have yet to see any proper level of accountability within the council and that, quite frankly, is beyond disappointing."

In response to Mr Flynn's call, the chief executive of Aberdeen City Council, Angela Scott, said: ''Just to remind the chamber, in the proceeding months action has been taken against the crematoria manager resulting in his dismissal following an investigation.

"The chamber will recall that I instructed a management review. That has concluded.

"The chamber will be aware that the director has advised that he's on a period of sick leave. That's the current position as it stands.''

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

It followed similar revelations about Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh, which had been secretly burying baby ashes for decades.

A report into the scandal by Dame Elish Angiolini described the practices as "abhorrent".

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