Moira Anderson & Her Case: 10 Frequently Asked Questions
1.Who was Moira?
She was a bright, bubbly eleven year old who disappeared, seemingly without trace, six weeks before her 12th birthday, on Saturday, February 23, 1957.
2. Where did she live?
In Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, Scotland. Her home was in Cliftonville. The bus from local firm Baxters which she was spotted on by several witnesses during a severe snowstorm, was going from Cliftonville-Kirkwood on the town’s outskirts, the terminus being close to Old Monkland Cemetery.
3. Who were her family?
Moira’s dad was local, while her mum came from Fife. Moira was one of three girls. Her older sister was Janet, and Marjory the youngest. All were very loved, and close to the extended family. Moira was never regarded by anyone who knew her as a troubled runaway. She was looking forward to starting High School. However, nasty rumours were circulated at the time by some people that she was a handful, and had run off to London. There was no truth to these insinuations.
4. Why was she out in a blizzard of snow?
Her Gran, who lived in nearby Muiryhall St, was extremely ill. Moira’s Uncle Jim sent her to the Laird Street Co-op- yards from her own home in Eglinton St, for lard to cook fish for his ailing mother, having estimated she would make it before it shut by late afternoon. Moira did not return, and was never seen again by any family member. Co-op staff later said they had not closed early due to the storm, but this was confirmed as untrue just a few years ago to Police Scotland. She found it closed and was seen waiting for a bus which she got on instead of going back to her Gran’s. She was due to meet up with her cousins to go to the Regal’s 5p.m. film show in the Town Centre of Coatbridge.
5. Why is the bus journey so key to Moira’s disappearance?
It was one of the few vehicles on the road due to the weather, and was being driven by Alexander Gartshore. He was out on bail for sexual offences relating to a girl of Moira’s age, who had been a babysitter for his own children. He had been allowed to get his job back while awaiting trial. This fact would not be common knowledge, and certainly not known to a small schoolgirl, though she was fairly familiar with him as he drove the route which passed her own front door on a regular basis.
6. Wasn’t Gartshore interviewed if he was among the last people to see Moira?
No, he was not interviewed at the time. Neither was Moira’s best friend, Elizabeth, who had been playing with Moira just prior to the shopping errand and before the snow worsened.
By the time he was found guilty and sentenced at Airdrie Sheriff Court, in April 1957, and went to jail, Moira had been missing several months. The BBC was only asked by the police to put Moira’s picture on television in May, and her parents had to fight for this to happen.
7. So the police at the time never suspected Alexander Gartshore in connection to Moira?
Not till his daughter (Sandra Brown) approached the authorities in 1992, following a conversation with him that convinced her of his involvement. He was then interviewed in Leeds, England, on suspicion of murder, and also relating to charges of sexual abuse concerning Sandra’s cousins. Following the Procurator-Fiscal’s decision to drop these charges and disinterest in bringing Gartshore (then in his seventies) to Scotland to face any further questioning, Sandra wrote her book “Where There is Evil” (Pan Macmillan; available on Kindle).
She insisted that a dreadful miscarriage of justice had occurred, stressed that the original police investigation had been fatally flawed, and declared that her father had been a paedophile and part of an organised ring. Sandra questioned why Moira was still technically a Missing Person, which meant that proper resources had never been given to her case.
8. Is Gartshore still alive?
He lived for a good number of years after charges were dropped- inexplicably, in Sandra’s view.
Proceeds from her original book helped set up the Moira Anderson Foundation in 2000, which meant a great deal of work, but she was determined it would be the best way to remember Moira. Before her father’s death in 2006, she visited him in a hospital in Leeds. Although he did not reveal Moira’s location, some revelations led to Sandra updating her book; it became a bestseller in Sunday Times listings of October and November 2006.
9. Did this case ever become a murder investigation?
After years of relentless questioning by Sandra, Moira’s case was upgraded at long last to a murder inquiry, in 2012. It became one of the first to be reviewed by the newly established Cold Case Unit.
10. Is the case still live?
It is 100% still live. Thanks to the sheer persistence of the Cold Case Unit of Police Scotland, there have been several breakthroughs in Moira’s case even recently. Publicity has produced more witnesses with credible evidence- so much so, that in 2014, the Scottish Crown Office issued a statement that had he still been alive, Alexander Gartshore would have been indicted for the abduction and murder of Moira Anderson in 1957.
It is believed such a statement is without precedent in the history of the Scottish legal system.
It is the fervent hope of both Moira’s sisters, Janet and Marjory, as well as Sandra Brown- who received the OBE for Services to Child Protection in Scotland- that the continuing commitment of Police Scotland’s Cold Case Team will see a final resolution in this case. Finding Moira so that her family can put her to rest in the manner she deserves is important to everyone involved.
In the meantime, the incredible work done by Moira Anderson Foundation in her name is a fitting legacy.