Families compensated after crematorium disposed babies’ ashes

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Families whose babies’ ashes were disposed by crematorium staff are to receive thousands of pounds in compensation.

Fife Council will pay up to £4,000 to parents who were incorrectly told that their stillborns, or newborn babies who had passed away, were too small for their ashes to be recovered.

Staff at crematoriums in the towns of Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, just north of Edinburgh, disposed of the ashes of 13 babies without their parents’ knowledge.

Fife Council apologised “unreservedly” to the families.

It is the latest local authority to make the payments – but the council was described as “heartless” last year because had failed to compensate all of the families affected.

The scandal came to light in 2012 when a charity revealed that the ashes of hundreds of stillborn babies had been buried without parents’ knowledge at Mortonhall in Edinburgh for more than 40 years.

Since 2012, crematoriums across several councils have been found to have secretly disposed of babies’ ashes.

Campaigners estimate that more than 450 families across Scotland were affected.

The scandal has led to apologies, memorials and a change in law to include rules on the disposal of a pregnancy loss – as well as the creation of a formal, independent crematorium inspection regime.

The agreement was “of huge significance to the parents affected”, said Thompsons Solicitors, who represented eight of the families in Fife.

Lawyer Catherine McGarrell added: “It has been a long, emotional journey for the parents but this does provide some small comfort.

“The agreement of Fife Council to this compensation scheme is of huge significance to the parents affected.

“The amounts of money involved are of a far lesser importance than the sign of good faith shown by the local authority.

“The council have backed up their public apology with real action which is welcomed by my clients.”

She welcomed the council consulting with families about a permanent memorial to the children.

Alan Paul, from Fife Council, said: “We have apologised unreservedly to families who were affected by our past practices and recognise the harm and distress that it caused.

“As documented, some infants’ ashes were unrecovered from the chamber and we have changed our practices to avoid this happening again.

“We previously invited families to discuss a specific memorial to their infants and have just this week received some ideas from their representatives, which we will be discussing in due course.”

Families affected can claim compensation until the scheme closes on 1 March.

(c) Sky News 2019: Families compensated after crematorium disposed babies’ ashes

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