Police worker’s fury after unmarked grave of stillborn daughter discovered

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A SCOTS grandmother is planning legal action after finally discovering the unmarked grave where her stillborn daughter was buried 33 years ago.

Irene Wright was just 19 when she gave birth to Stacey but was never told by doctors what had happened to the body.

Following the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal she resolved to find her daughter and tracked the remains to an unmarked corner of an Edinburgh cemetery, where she lies with three other stillborn infants.

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Ms Wright, 52, from Arbroath, Angus, believes the remains were disposed of illegally and is planning to make a formal complaint to police next week.

She is also demanding answers from the NHS and council chiefs as to why she was never told the truth.

The nation was appalled in December 2012 to learn that the ashes of hundreds of babies had been disposed of in the grounds of the Edinburgh Council-run Mortonhall Crematorium.

An investigation into the ashes scandal is expected to report next month.

But Ms Wright’s case is one of a number where bodies were buried without informing parents – and could spark another flood of legal action.

Ms Wright, herself a civilian worker with Police Scotland, delivered Stacey, on November 5, 1980, at Bangour Village Hospital, Livingston, West Lothian.

After she was born Stacey’s body was, in line with procedures at the time, transported to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

The confused and grieving teenager was told nothing about what had happened to the baby and had to plead with staff to be told its sex.

It was not until 1996, when she had a family of her own, that she could summon the courage to try to find out what had happened.

She says staff at Mortonhall at the time wrongly suggested Stacey’s body had been placed in a pauper’s coffin.

Mrs Wright was too upset and depressed by this revelation to continue her search. But when the Mortonhall scandal broke she contacted stillbirth charity Sands for help.

Flowers

In the summer of last year, Sands’ detective work tracked down Stacey’s remains to an unmarked grave in Rosebank Cemetery, Leith.

In October last year she visited for the first time, accompanied by daughter, Simone, 20. Mrs Wright said: “We took flowers and it was just very special to be there. It felt weird because I just knew I was in the right place when we got there.”

She added: “I don’t know who decided to bury my Stacey. She had two parents who should have made that decision.

“Who decided that my baby should be buried and that others should be put in an incinerator? I’m really, really angry that this information has been withheld. They denied me the chance to grieve properly and bury my child.”

Ms Wright is now hoping to erect a gravestone and hold a service at her daughter’s burial site in Rosebank cemetery.

She said: “I’m not sure what I want it to say on it. I want to get the wording right.

“I feel free now to acknowledge her as part of me and that she was my daughter. I never knew her, but I did really. I felt her move inside me and I spoke to her.”

A spokesman for her solicitors, Thompsons, said: “We believe that there has been a breach of the law. We are calling for a full public inquiry on this, as are all the parents.”

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson also said the latest revelations demonstrated the need for a full public inquiry.

She said: “The scandal of baby ashes is much bigger than anyone realised, and it’s still growing.

“The only way to get to the bottom of it all is a full public inquiry.

“The parents need it for closure and the country needs it to find out exactly what went wrong.”

Sarah Ballard-Smith, Nurse Director at NHS Lothian, said: “We have spoken with Ms Wright and have reassured her that we are looking into the details regarding Stacey’s burial and will keep her updated as to our findings.”

An Edinburgh Council spokesman said: “It is inappropriate to discuss individual cases however we are in contact with Ms Wright.”

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