Council boss resigns after report blasts Mortonhall Crematorium

Mark Turley was suspended from his role in Edinburgh in May and announced his resignation on Thursday.

Mortonhall crematorium in Edinburgh. December 2012 quality image
SWNS

A senior council boss who was suspended from his job has resigned following a report into practices at Mortonhall.

Mark Turley, the director of services for community at the City of Edinburgh Council, announced his resignation on Thursday.

It comes after a series of scandals in his department, the latest of which was the baby ashes investigation at Mortonhall.

Over decades, parents at the crematorium had been told there would be no ashes from their stillborn and premature babies. In fact they were buried in the garden of remembrance without their parents’ consent.

A report by Dame Eilish Angiolini into the scandal said many parents face a "lifetime of uncertainty" about their child's final resting place.

Mr Turley was suspended on full pay in May and an investigation was launched but has now been called off.

In a statement released on Thursday, he said he felt he had no choice but to stand down.

He said: "Whilst I do not believe I personally contributed to any wrong doing at Mortonhall Crematorium, as the Director with ultimate accountability I believe it is right that I do the honourable thing in recognition of working practices at Mortonhall as criticised in Dame Elish Angiolini’s recent report. I have therefore asked the Chief Executive to accept my resignation.

"I would like to thank the many partners and colleagues who have supported me through this difficult period and wish them all well for the future."

The council’s Chief Executive Sue Bruce said she respects Mr Turley’s decision.

She said: "Mark has made a significant contribution to this Council and to the city over the past 20 years, in particular in relation to the provision of housing. I respect the decision he has taken in these difficult circumstances.

"Following the media coverage of this issue I would like to take this opportunity to make it clear that Mark was placed under precautionary suspension to allow an investigation to take place. This is standard practice in such circumstances. In light of Mark’s decision, that investigation will not now proceed.

"Mark leaves with our best wishes for the future."

Dorothy Maitland from Sands, who led the campaign to look into Mortonhall, said she was

She said: "I'm saddened that someone has to resign over Mortonhall, that was never the intention of our campaign.

"I can understand that he was confident that things were getting done properly, I thought that was happening as well. It's regretful that he has to step down from his position."

Mr Turley’s remit also included Liberton High School, where 12-year-old Keane Wallace-Bennett died when a modesty wall fell on her as she changed for PE in April.

He was also involved in the statutory repairs scandal at the council, leading the internal investigation into both the property conservation and property care departments.

A report into the scandal found "serious and wide-ranging management failure" allowed it to become £30m in debt. Eleven people were sacked and six suspended.

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