An Airdrie councillor is calling for a public inquiry into the disappearance of Coatbridge schoolgirl Moira Anderson.
Michael Coyle says the 55-year mystery is “Scotland’s shame” and has written to the First Minister campaigning for the public release of documents which he believes would shed light on the circumstances of the 11-year-old’s disappearance.
The Advertiser told last week how eight bodies are to be exhumed from a plot at Old Monkland cemetery early in the new year in a bid to find the youngster’s remains.
It follows a court application by Moira’s sister, Janet Hart, and campaigner Sandra Brown, who has researched the case and named her late father, Alexander Gartshore, as Moira’s killer in her book.
She believes that the bus driver, who was the last person to see Moira alive on the day of her disappearance while running an errand in February 1957, dumped her body in the Coatbridge grave while it was open for a burial the following month.
Gartshore later served a jail term for rape, and fellow prisoner Jimmy Gallogley wrote in a deathbed confession 13 years ago that the pair and a third man had been involved in Moira’s death.
Airdrie South councillor Mr Coyle said this week: “I’m asking the First Minister, as a man who cares about Scotland, to release these papers to bring closure to Moira Anderson’s family and so that we might know the truth of what happened.
“This has been a mystery for decades, the longest cold case in Scotland, and that 15-page document could tell what happened to that wee lassie.
“It’s a crying shame; this case concerns me very much and we have to hope that this exhumation in the new year is going to prove fruitful, to discover she’s buried in that grave.”
Elaine Smith MSP, also echoed the hope that forthcoming exhumation will finally help locate Moira and provide answers for her family and campaigners.
The Coatbridge & Chryston representative, who is also deputy presiding officer at the Holyrood parliament, has lodged an official motion welcoming the decision, which has attracted cross-party support from dozens of MSPs.
It states that “the decision to exhume is a positive step for the investigation”, and praises the work of the Moira Anderson Foundation, established by Sandra Brown “on the work that it has done both on the unsolved case and in supporting people who have been affected by childhood sexual abuse”.
Ms Smith told the Advertiser: “Growing up in Coatbridge, I am aware that the case of Moira Anderson has been a dark cloud hanging over the town and I am pleased that the decision has been taken by Sheriff Frank Pieri for the grave to be exhumed.
“I hope this brings closure to Moira’s family and everyone who has been affected by the case; her legacy lives on in the area through the excellent work carried out by the Moira Anderson Foundation and I hope the success of the charity continues for years to come.”