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

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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.