Bereaved mother in plea to MSPs over baby ashes scandal

Mortonhall Crematorium which was at the centre of the baby ashes scandal. Picture: Greg Macvean
Mortonhall Crematorium which was at the centre of the baby ashes scandal. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A BEREAVED mother who was denied her baby’s remains is to tell MSPs that no-one should have to suffer as those affected by Scotland’s ashes scandal.

In December 2012 it emerged staff at the council-run Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh had been telling parents since it opened in 1967 that no ashes were left after babies were cremated.

Cheryl Buchanan (far right) with other mothers of the Mortonhall ashes scandal. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Cheryl Buchanan (far right) with other mothers of the Mortonhall ashes scandal. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Holyrood’s health committee will today hear the views of bereaved parents and campaigners on legislation aimed at ensuring there is no repeat of the scandal that affected 250 families.

Cheryl Buchanan said that she may have had “some physical remnant of my daughter to treasure” if a proposed new legal definition of ashes to prevent any future incidents like those at Mortonhall and her own experience at Daldowie crematorium had been in place.

Mrs Buchanan, a member of the Glasgow Answers for Ashes campaign, told of her shock after being told her dead baby had no ashes following the cremation in Daldowie in 2004 , in a written submission to MSPs.

She suggested the Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill, which will ensure the details when these involve a stillborn baby or a pregnancy that has been lost are recorded, could have prevented her trauma in being denied her daughter’s remains.

• READ MORE: Mortonhall ashes scandal ‘will never be repeated’

Mrs Buchanan said her “deepest fear” is that her daughter’s remains were 
disposed of “along with may other babies ashes that may not have been regarded as “ashes”.

She said: “When my daughter was cremated I was told by the funeral director that there would be “ashes” after the cremation and if I wish I could call the following day to collect them. “When I contacted Daldowie Crematorium I was told there were no remains.

“I was very upset, it took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact I would have no physical reminder of my daughter.”

Mrs Buchanan went on to say that the law change, recommended by Lord Bonomy’s Infant Cremation Commission, to require authorities to retain details of both burials and cremations, could “ensure no parent in the future has to suffer as we have”.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We have taken immediate steps to address the issues surrounding infant ashes, such as issuing national guidance and appointing an Inspector of Crematoria. The Burial and Cremation (Scotland) Bill will provide the legislative framework to ensure this can never happen again.”