Aberdeen crematorium boss sacked over ashes scandal

A man in charge of a crematorium at the centre of the baby ash scandal investigation has been sacked.

The scandal was sparked last year by the discovery that staff at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh had secretly buried infants ashes. Picture: TSPL

Derek Snow was suspended from his post at Aberdeen Crematorium after council officials launched a new probe in June.

An allegation had surfaced about the remains of adults and infants being cremated together at the Hazlehead site.

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The scandal was sparked last year by the discovery that staff at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh had secretly buried infants’ ashes.

The discovery of the mass grave in the capital gave rise to a public outcry and several councils across Scotland launched their own investigations into cremation practices.

However, an internal inquiry carried out by Aberdeen City Council found no evidence of wrongdoing, despite failing to return the remains of 24 babies to parents.

Mr Snow was recently suspended from his role after the local authority decided to launch a new probe into working practices at the city crematorium.

And yesterday it emerged that he was no longer employed by the city council and his job is now being advertised.

Senior councillors have been sent an e-mail informing them that Mr Snow had been removed from his post.

But the local authority refused to confirm his departure, stating that it did not comment on staffing matters.

The crematorium management vacancy was published online on Monday. The advert states that the council was seeking someone to manage an “efficient, caring and sensitive” cremation service to the public.

Last year’s review into working practices at the site was carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The audit looked at the policies and procedures at Hazlehead and found that although there was no formal policy, parents were advised by staff that there will be no cremated remains after the cremation of a baby or infant up to 18 months old.

Three time periods between 1984 and 2012 were used for sample testing. Records showed 40 instances where remains were dispersed in the Garden of Remembrance

at Hazelhead.

Because cremation application forms are only kept for 15 years, investigators were unable to verify if this was done with the full support of the bereaved family.

The local authority’s chief executive Angela Scott announced a fresh investigation in June.

She said: “I have received a serious allegation regarding practices at Hazlehead Crematorium. The allegation relates to the joint cremation of babies and adults.

“In light of the allegation I now have to reconsider the findings of our independent audit which were published last year and I have advised Lord Bonomy’s Infant Cremation Commission of this development.”