Police open up grave in search for remains of missing schoolgirl Moira Anderson who disappeared in 1957

11-year-old disappeared while running an errand for her grandmother in North Lanarkshire

Police have reopened a family grave in a search for the remains of an 11-year-old school girl who went missing in 1957.

Moira Anderson disappeared while running an errand for her grandmother in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire. It is widely believed she was abducted and murdered, but her body has never been found and the case remains unsolved.

Convicted paedophile Alexander Gartshore, a local bus driver who died in 2006, has been connected with the disappearance, with investigators today confirming that the excavated grave is that of Sinclair Upton, an acquaintance of Gartshore.

Police believe the burial plot has three layers and there may be up to eight people interred there.

Chief Inspector Kenny McLeod of Strathclyde Police said: “There may be no necessity to exhume all eight human remains but that does remain a possibility”.

Experts are exploring the possibility that Moira's body may have been dumped under a coffin in the grave, which was thought to have been open around the time of her disappearance.

Mr McLeod said: ”[The exhumation] comes from new information presented to the court….Operations like this are not taken lightly as we remain sensitive to Moira Anderson's family and also the families who have relatives buried elsewhere in the cemetery.“

Gartshore has been blamed for Moira's murder by his own daughter, Sandra Brown, in her book Where There Is Evil.

The Moira Anderson Foundation was started by Ms Brown in 2000 to support children and adults affected by sexual abuse.

The foundation campaigned for further investigations into Moira's disappearance and last year Scotland's Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland ordered cold case detectives to reopen the case as a murder.

Moira's sister Janet Hart, who lives in Australia, launched a petition at Airdrie Sheriff Court to get Mr Upton's grave exhumed, believing that Gartshore may have dumped her body there in the days before Mr Upton was buried.

Ms Brown said at the time: ”I truly believe this grave has secrets to give up. We owe it to Moira to open it.“

A memorial service for the Moira Anderson was held in Airdrie Baptist Church in February 2007, the 50th anniversary of her disappearance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
news
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick