'Baby Ashes' Scandal A 'Tragedy'

Many parents will be left with a ``lifetime of uncertainty'' about their child's final resting place, according to a report into a baby ashes scandal at a city crematorium.

Former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini, who led an inquiry into previous practices at Edinburgh's Mortonhall crematorium, described the situation as a ``great tragedy''.

The scandal emerged in December 2012 when it was revealed that the council-run crematorium had buried or scattered the ashes of stillborn and newborn babies for decades without their relatives' knowledge. Families said they were told there would be nothing to scatter. 

The practice took place at the site between 1967 and 2011. 

Dame Elish's report, which runs to more than 600 pages, was published by the local authority today after parents affected by the scandal were given individual copies of the document. 

It contains more than 20 recommendations, which the council said will be taken forward by it and other relevant agencies.

Dame Elish was appointed by Edinburgh Council at the start of 2013 to head an inquiry into the practices at Mortonhall after they were uncovered by child bereavement charity Sands Lothians. 

It emerged then that parents were led to believe there would be nothing to scatter and the ashes were dumped in a ``mass grave'' in a so-called ``garden of remembrance'' at the crematorium. 

The investigation, described as ``extensive and complex'', began at the end of April last year and grew as it went on. 

The number of cases referred to the probe increased from 130 babies at the start to 253 babies by its conclusion. 

The report on the findings said that the parents involved wanted to know what had happened at Mortonhall, even if any remains of their baby could not now be located. 

But it stated: ``The outcome of this investigation will cause more pain and distress for most of the parents of the 253 babies who are the subject of this investigation. 

``It cannot be said with any certainty what remains of which babies are interred in the garden of remembrance. 

``The precise extent to which remains of babies have been mixed in with an adult cremation that followed the baby's cremation is also unknown but appears likely to be extensive.'' 

The report goes on: ``The only baby remains in this investigation that can be said for certain to be in the garden of remembrance are those of the non-viable foetus that was the subject of a communal cremation in 2013. 

``Some others will also be there but it will never be known which babies are there, which babies may be in the land adjacent to the garden of remembrance and which babies are mixed in with the ashes of the deceased adult who was cremated immediately following the baby. 

``The great tragedy of these events over many years is that many parents will now be left with a lifetime of uncertainty about their baby's final resting place.''