Richard Lochhead

Moray SNP News



Moray MSP, Richard Lochhead, will tomorrow (Thursday) highlight concerns about the standard of Scotland’s mortuaries during a debate he has secured in the Scottish Parliament.

The issue came to light when the family of Mr Frank Whyte, who died in a tragic sailing accident in Findhorn earlier this year, contacted Mr Lochhead and are calling for the standards of mortuaries across Scotland to be checked following their own distressing experience at Spynie mortuary.

Mrs Whyte, along with her daughters, Sharon and 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 and process for dealing with bereaved families.

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, Moray Council and the Scottish Government on their concerns and the issues raised regarding Spynie Mortuary, which is used by Police Scotland 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 similar situations elsewhere in Scotland and feel that this should be a concern of all politicians. 

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 and, indeed, to hopefully see improvements nationwide.

Mr Lochhead has also been contacted by field specialists who have been very supportive of Mrs Whyte’s campaign and Mr Lochhead’s actions in support of it.

Tomorrow, Mr Lochhead hopes to gain the support of MSPs from across the chamber in order to keep this important issue in the spotlight and gain as much impetus as possible towards getting the issue resolved.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s debate Mr Lochhead said:

“The experience of Mrs Whyte and her daughters during their visit to Spynie mortuary, following the sudden and very sad death of her husband, is not one that any family should have to go through.

“Following that difficult experience, Mrs Whyte contacted me to enlist my help with her concerns that no other family should have to endure a similar experience.

“Mrs Whyte has contacted various public bodies expressing her concerns and, in support of that, I have written to numerous agencies including The Moray Council, NHS Grampian, Police Scotland and The Scottish Government.  The responses I have received have been broadly positive, acknowledging the issue and the fact that some of Scotland’s mortuaries are sub-standard and not appropriate for family visits, this is particularly the case at Spynie mortuary in Elgin.

“Organisations such as The Moray Council and NHS Grampian are working to find a solution and my debate in Parliament tomorrow seeks to highlight the wider problem and to take stock of where we are at present with this important issue and I will be seeking cross-party support for the work that still needs to be done.”