MIDLOTHIAN South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame says she expects a number of people among her Borders constituents to be affected by the growing scandal over the disposal of baby ashes at Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh.
Senior QC Dame Elish Angiolini, the former Lord Advocate, who is now principal of St Hugh’s College, Oxford, has agreed to return to Edinburgh to conduct an enquiry.
The news of her appointment has been welcomed by Sands Lothian, the bereavement charity which discovered that, for decades, parents of stillborn babies and those which died soon after birth, were informed there would be no remains after cremation, when in actual fact the ashes of their dead children were later buried in the crematorium grounds.
Dame Elish is expected to launch her enquiry as soon as Lothian and Borders Police decides what action it will take over the 19 complaints against the council-run crematorium.
Ms Grahame says she will assist in any way she can.
“It is clear that many people are affected by this tragic and appalling situation, and it is important we find out as soon as possible what has happened, where, and to whom,” she said.
“I am pleased Edinburgh City Council is investigating and understand that my colleague Michael Matheson, the minister for public health, is monitoring the situation.
“That will allow us to find out what has been discovered to date and what the Scottish Government can do to assist grieving parents as quickly as possible.”
And Ms Grahame says several of her constituents have already contacted her over the matter, including one from the Borders.
“And I expect there might be more, as the idea that this is basically a situation affecting Edinburgh is entirely misplaced.
“People must remember that, until fairly recently, there were no crematoria facilities located in the Borders and people routinely used those in Edinburgh for funerals.”
Ms Grahame says she welcomes the appointment of Dame Elish.
“She is very competent and I am sure will deal with this matter with the utmost sensitivity,” said Ms Grahame. “There will be people very upset who lost babies 10, 15 and 20 years ago, not just those from more recent times.”
The practice ended in 2011, but it is believed to have gone on for about 45 years.
Privately-run crematoriums, at Seafield and Warriston in the capital, have always given ashes to those parents who request them.
Lesley Hinds, Edinburgh City Council’s environment convener, has already offered her apologies to those families who have been affected by the situation.
“As soon as I became aware of this heartbreaking matter I met with Sands to express my sincere regret and reassure them I will do everything in my power to find out how this happened,” she said.
“It is reassuring that this practice no longer occurs, although nothing can ever fully make up for the hurt families may have suffered as a result of this unacceptable situation.”
Anyone who would like to speak to Ms Grahame about this matter is urged to contact either her Galashiels or Edinburgh offices on 01896 759575/0131 348 5729.