Borders Crematorium in pledge on handling ashes

Melrose crematorium in the Scottish Borders.
Melrose crematorium in the Scottish Borders.
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The operators of the Borders’ only crematorium have moved swiftly to reassure families in the wake of the scandal over babies’ ashes at Mortonhall.

A company spokesperson for the Westerleigh Group, which opened the crematorium at Melrose in 2012, was responding following the row which has engulfed the council-run Mortonhall facility in Edinburgh.

Last week, former lord advocate, Dame Elish Angiolini, published a damning 600-page report, which followed the 11-month investigation into Mortonhall stretching back to the 1960s.

It emerged that systematic failings at Mortonhall Crematorium had led to parents being told there were no ashes left to scatter. In reality, it seems there had been “extensive” mixing of babies’ remains with those of adults, and that it had been likely the ashes of babies had been “hoovered up” during cleaning of flues and then interred in a piece of land.

A spokesperson for the Borders Crematorium said: “I can assure you that all of our staff operate to the highest modern standards. We take the utmost care to try and recover ashes where possible so that these may be returned to the family if that is their choice, although we can provide no guarantee. We work closely with funeral directors and the BGH to ensure families have all possible information about their options.”