I HAD a shred of sympathy for Alder Hey in the wake of the organ retention scandal.
The system of storing body parts without relatives’ permission was abhorrent but historic, reflecting a time when doctors did not have to pretend they cared what the rest of us thought.
Although the practice continued until the 1990s, by when they should have known better, one could understand how it continued under the ethos of “this is how it has always been done”.
That was thoughtless but not necessarily wicked.
The news this week that police forces had also pulled the same trick is harder to view with sympathy.
Did they not see the massive national media coverage of the Alder Hey scandal? Did they not read the interviews with shattered parents who felt they had been forced to grieve twice?
Did it not set any alarm bells ringing?
One of the sad cases dates back to 1999, the year the Alder Hey scandal emerged. Another was as recent as 2003.
Did not a single person involved in the process – detectives, family liaison officers, admin staff, lab technicians – think to ask the question: “Do the relatives know we are keeping this?”
Police officers will readily tell you that ignorance of the law is no defence. Post-1999, ignorance of the misery caused by secret organ retention is not just a poor defence, but an incredible one.