THE carers of missing Inverkip woman Margaret Fleming have finally broken their silence — and say that she is still alive and working as a GANGMASTER.

Eddie Cairney and Avril Jones gave a television interview last night on the BBC, almost a year since Margaret was reported missing.

In it they claimed that Margaret vanished from their house when the police had arrived to speak to her.

They said she fled because she suffered from a ‘persecution complex’ about the authorities.

Mr Cairney, 75, stated that over the past year Margaret had been in both London and Poland — and was working as a gangmaster.

Margaret became a missing person in October last year after police visited her address at the request of the authorities regarding a query about her benefits.

Mr Cairney said Margaret had slipped ‘out of the door’ when the police called because she was frightened.

Asked if he had seen her since, Mr Cairney said: “Yes, she has been here once. Not here, not to the house, but we have seen her once.”

He said this happened within a month of her being reported missing.

Mr Cairney went on to add that he had spoken to Margaret on the phone since then, saying: “She has come to no harm unless she has got harmed in the past couple of weeks.”

When asked if he had heard from her since she went missing, he said: “Yes I have.

“I’ve heard her on the phone but the police took the phones away so she wouldn’t know how to contact us.

“The first time that I knew where she was she was in London.

“I told the police that. I told the police where she could be found in the next six hours and they didn’t do anything about it.”

Mr Cairney added: “She has been doing a gangmaster, do you know what that is?

“In spite of her difficulties she has become a person who recruits and hires out agricultural workers.”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said the case ‘remains a missing person inquiry’.

She said: “At this time we continue to appeal to people with any information on Margaret’s whereabouts, or anyone who knows her - who has not yet spoken to police - to come forward to police.

“Officers were asked to attend Margaret’s home on behalf of a partner agency. Officers attended the house on Friday 28 October 2016, and it is then that she was reported missing.”

The spokeswoman said that the last independent sighting of Margaret was on 17 December 1999 at a family gathering.

She added: “This, along with facts such as her having no trace of any job, few friends that are contactable, and no evidence of her contact with partner agencies and local services has led us to become very concerned for her whereabouts and wellbeing.”