Campaigners’ shock after Government U-turn on baby ashes inquiry

Justice Secretary Liz Truss
Justice Secretary Liz Truss
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Campaigners have spoken of their shock after the Government withdrew backing for a public inquiry into the baby ashes scandal.

Former Justice Secretary Michael Gove asked Hull Council to commission an historic investigation into infant cremations in the Hull area, after complaints from parents whose babies’ ashes had been scattered without their knowledge.

But in a letter to Hull Council newly appointed Justice Secretary Liz Truss said she agreed the council would be better concentrating their resources on improving the system “rather than carrying out further historic investigations, unless a new need arises.”

Tina Trowhill of Ancaster Avenue, Hull, has been trying to get answers since discovering in 2014 that ashes of her son William had been collected and scattered at the baby cemetery at Chanterlands Avenue.

She was told 20 years ago by the hospital and crematorium that no ashes would remain.

In the letter Mrs Truss said she was “reassured you (the council) have taken local bereaved parents’ concerns so seriously.”

But Mrs Trowhill set up a Facebook group, which now has more than 400 members, which has successfully reunited some parents with their babies ashes, said it had been an “uphill battle” to get to the truth.

She said: “I am shocked because we thought there was progress towards an inquiry.

“At the end of the day they haven’t answered the many questions as to why we were literally robbed of our babies ashes.

“We need and deserve answers.”

A spokeswoman for Hull Council said: “We have now received a letter from the Ministry of Justice in relation to our response to their cross-departmental request for a public inquiry to be held in Hull regarding infant cremations and we welcome the Secretary of State’s decision that the substantial work already undertaken in Hull negates the need for such a public inquiry.

“The Secretary of State is reassured that we have taken the concerns of bereaved parents and families very seriously and have made significant improvements to cremation practice covering, not just the role of Cremation Authority staff, but also funeral directors and medical professionals.

“We fully acknowledge her recommendation that Hull should now act as a model for other cremation authorities and that our resources would be most usefully focused on further improving cremation, funeral director and hospital practice regarding infant cremations, rather than carrying out further historic investigations.”