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Law overhaul call after ashes crisis

A NATIONAL memorial is ­reportedly to be proposed in memory of infants and children whose remains were never returned to their parents.

The recommendation is expected to be made following an independent commission by former High Court Lord Bonomy, which has been examining the issue of how child ashes are handled. Lord Bonomy is also expected to call for a radical overhaul of Scots law following the Mortonhall scandal in Edinburgh when his findings are made public on Wednesday.

His report is one of two arising out of the practice which took place at the Edinburgh City Council crematorium and elsewhere.

Former Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini's report into the scandal is due to be published on the same day. However, Lord ­Bonomy's is expected to lead to wholesale reform.

It was also reported yesterday the judge will suggest that all local authorities provide dedicated areas of remembrance at crematoriums.

The report will also address the arcane provisions which govern the cremation of "non-viable babies" - those pregnancies of less than 24 weeks' gestation.

Lord Bonomy argues, the law should ensure that the ashes from such cremations be treated as human remains.

While the report is welcomed by most, the families of those babies cremated at Mortonhall are hoping that proposals for wider reforms will not overshadow the truth of the "appalling" practices carried out there.

Patrick McGuire, partner at the Thompsons solicitors, which represents many of those families, said: "Of course we would welcome such proposals, but these provide scant consolation to the families who have already lost a child, and whose remains have been disposed of in an arbitrary and indifferent manner.

"Depending on the findings of Dame Elish Angiolini's report, it may be that a public inquiry into the appalling treatment at Mortonhall Crematorium is the only chance of getting answers."

Dorothy Maitland, operations director of the Stillborn and Neonatal Death Society (Sands) Lothians, and one those affected, said: "There will be a lot of parents who may not get any answers. We don't know where it's going to leave us."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Lord Bonomy's report is expected to follow Dame Elish Angiolini's report and we will consider the need for any further action, including the need for any change to legislation, in the light of both their findings."

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Families

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