Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News



The family of Mr Frank Whyte from Forres, who died in a tragic sailing accident earlier this year are calling for the standards of mortuaries across Scotland to be checked following their own distressing experience at Moray’s mortuary.

Mrs Whyte along with her daughters Sharon & Natalie, went to Spynie Mortuary accompanied by family member Mr Brian Williams, to carry out the formal identification process of her husband on 22nd May and were deeply shocked and distressed by the building, the processes and lack of systems which were evident on that day.

Despite the trauma being faced, and following much discussion and heartache, together, they decided that the situation needed to be brought to the attention of the three partner organisations who all have a vested interest in Spynie Mortuary. 

Mrs Whyte and her family had various meetings and communications with local councillors, representatives of NHS Grampian, and Police Scotland to make them aware of the conditions and processes at Spynie.

The family now welcome the positive response they have received from NHS Grampian, Police Scotland and Moray Council on their concerns and the issues raised regarding Spynie Mortuary, which is used by the Police following unexplained or accidental deaths.  Steps are now being taken to improve the situation to ensure that bereaved relatives and friends who find themselves in such a traumatic situation will not be subject to the experiences endured by the family of Mr Whyte.

Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has been supporting the family who are now becoming aware of how widespread poor and inadequate Mortuary provision is across Scotland and feel that this should be a concern of all politicians.

The family wish to involve the general public who may have had a similar experience and will seek to raise this issue with other MSPs across Scotland.

Moving on from the initial steps that have been made to improve the local situation, Mrs Whyte, who offered to be part of the ongoing process, welcomes the opportunity to work with the relevant organisations in the short and longer term to enable the provision of a fit for purpose Mortuary for Moray .

Commenting, Mrs Maryan Whyte said:

“When we lost our much loved husband and father we were hugely distressed at the condition of the mortuary at Spynie in Elgin and the lack of basic facilities available there for grieving families. 

“ I found the external and the internal appearance of the building to be appalling.  To think of my husband being in such a place has left me with such a desolate feeling. No-one should have these memories of their loved ones.  There are no facilities for the bereaved, none whatsoever and little respect and dignity at the end of a life.

“No one should be left with these memories of their loved one. Families who are suffering in difficult and often tragic circumstances should be shown much more compassion than what we found to be the case in Moray.

“It is vital that at such a difficult time, families in Moray should have access to a mortuary that is fit for purpose where families can feel comforted and where the deceased are treated with dignity and respect.

“It seems that across Scotland provision is poor and we are calling for the standards of mortuaries across the country to be checked to ensure that they meet the national guidelines, and so that other families do not have to go through the traumatic experience our family went through.”

Mrs Sharon Robertson, 43, Mrs Whyte’s eldest daughter said:

"I had never given a mortuary used by the police much thought before. Having now had my eyes thrust open, there has to be some action taken as soon as possible to prevent another family going through the added heartache of seeing your loved one in such poor and inadequate surroundings until they can finally go to a funeral directors"

"There must surely be a want and desire to provide a mortuary that has the basic needs, ie a comforting room where you can sit with your loved one and say your goodbyes, a separate room to conduct any interviews needed or to make statements and at the very least somewhere to sit and compose yourself and of course a toilet! What we were put through was an appalling disgrace in this day and age"

"I am pleased that some progress has been made so far to improve the process for formal identification but feel Moray needs to have a mortuary that is fit for purpose and gives respect, dignity and compassion to not only the relatives but also to the person who has passed away"

Mrs Whyte’s youngest daughter, Natalie Whyte, 41 said:

"Having been completely unaware of a local police mortuary, I was shocked when we were taken to Spynie to identify my Dad. The lack of facilities for the bereaved is completely inadequate and shows a lack of thought and compassion for those already suffering in difficult and often tragic circumstances. I'm glad that progress is being made in Moray and hope that fit for purpose facilities can be provided as a matter of urgency."

Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead who has taken up this case and will now be raising their issue in the Scottish Parliament added:

“It is very clear that Mrs Whyte and her family’s experience of the Moray mortuary was very distressing and compounded a very difficult time for them. No-one would want to go through what they had to go through and the experience of bereaved families must be always at the forefront of the authorities’ minds.

“NHS Grampian’s recognition of this and decision to stop using the Spynie mortuary for family visits and to make longer term improvements is welcome. 

“ Now the Whyte family want to ensure that no other family has to suffer a similar experience in terms of visiting a mortuary that fails to meet the standards of dignity that society would expect.  I admire their decision to campaign to have all mortuaries across Scotland checked to ensure they meet appropriate standards and I am taking this forward in the Scottish Parliament.”

Families who wish to get involved in the campaign should email: mortuaryformoray@gmail.com