Crematorium investigation documents stolen from Scottish charity

Laptop stolen from child bereavement organisation Sands Lothians contained emails relating to the Mortonhall Crematorium controversy

Mortonhall Crematorium
Mortonhall Crematorium

A laptop stolen from the Edinburgh-based child bereavement charity Sands Lothians last weekend contained sensitive documents relating to its investigation of a local crematorium.

Sands Lothians revealed last year that Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh had told parents since 1967 that there would be no ashes to scatter from the remains of their stillborn or very young babies, but had actually been burying the ashes in unmarked parts of the grounds.

As a result of the charity's lobbying, the crematorium changed its practice in May 2011 and now routinely offers parents their children's ashes.

In January, Edinburgh City Council announced that an independent investigation of the disposal of baby ashes at the crematorium would be carried out by Dame Elish Angiolini, a former Lord Advocate – the chief legal officer of the Scottish government. The Lothian and Borders Police force has also been asked to consider whether criminal charges should be brought.

Dorothy Maitland, operations manager at Sands Lothians, said: "The information on the laptop is probably of no interest to anyone else but me. There were no personal details of any parents, but there was stuff about the Mortonhall ashes that I’ve been discussing on emails."

Maitland said the laptop also contained details of staff names and their salaries. A key safe containing several keys was also taken.

Maitland said she was surprised that other items had not been stolen during the break-in. "There is also a radio and a TV in the office; I would have thought they would have been taken," she said.

Maitland said Sands Lothians, which is based in a sports centre, would now move to new offices in the same building, an option it had been discussing before the burglary.

Maitland told Third Sector she was planning to contact the Information Commissioner's Office about the theft.

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "We can confirm that police are investigating a theft from an office premises in Colinton Road that happened over the weekend."

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