Minister says a public inquiry into the baby ashes scandal has not been ruled out


Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said the government had not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry into the Mortonhall crematorium baby ashes scandal, during a ministerial statement on 1 May 2014.

The minister also confirmed that parents of the infants involved were to receive funding from the Scottish government for counselling.

First Minister Alex Salmond had earlier told MSPs an extra £100,000 would be made available to help the families.

He also confirmed that the Lord Advocate had referred Dame Elish Angiolini's report to the police for further investigation.

A working group has been set up to act on the report's recommendations.

The group has been tasked with drawing up an action plan to ensure that there is no repeat of the "tragedy" which saw staff at the crematorium burying ashes in secret for decades.

The report by Dame Elish Angiolini, published on Wednesday, made a series of recommendations for improving practices at the crematorium.

Opposition parties welcomed the measures from the Scottish government but some MSPs called for a full public inquiry to be instigated straight away looking into the issue of baby cremation across Scotland.

Mr Matheson said the government had not ruled out a public inquiry and would look at the issue after the Lord Bonomy commission into infant cremation had reported later this month.

The minister said Lord Bonomy's report would provide a "clearer understanding of the scale of the matter in Scotland and provide a better position to make an informed decision on a public inquiry".

He earlier told the chamber it was important that the affected parents must have a voice in the next steps in the process and pledged to support them through these "difficult times".

A number of MSPs, including the minister, paid tribute to the work of Sands Lothian and, in particular, manager of the charity Dorothy Maitland.

Sands Lothian offers bereaved parents who have experienced the death of a baby through miscarriage, stillbirth or soon after birth.

Ms Maitland was one of the affected parents, and has spoken of her "total devastation" at the treatment of her daughter.

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