SOCIAL workers failed to take action after concerns were raised about the home where murder-accused Edward Cairney and Avril Jones were allegedly caring for vulnerable Margaret Fleming.

The trial heard yesterday that Department for Work and Pensions employee Morag Deegan, 57, contacted Inverclyde social work department in June 2012 after visiting Seacroft in Inverkip.

She got in touch because she had been shocked by the state of the property.

But giving evidence, Helen Morley, 54, a team leader of social work at Inverclyde Council, said: “We didn't get the client's consent and we basically closed it down as a referral .”

A case note written at the time and shown to the jury stated: 'Referrer did not ascertain client's permission to make a referral therefore no further action can be taken in relation to this.'

Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC said: “Is that right, because the clients didn't give permission you can't do anything?”

Ms Morley replied: “If we don't have the permission of the adult or the carer it is difficult to get involved.”

Mr McSporran asked: “It was simply closed with no further action taken?”

She replied: “Yes.”

Defence QC Thomas Ross, representing Cairney, said: “How could the social work obtain permission without going to the house to assess this?”

Ms Morley said: “Yes, perhaps we should have tried to contact Avril Jones or Margaret Fleming.

"We have to weigh up the client's rights to have social work intervention.”

When asked by Mr Ross who the client was, she said Margaret Fleming.

The QC then asked: “You wouldn't be able to tell if Margaret Fleming wishes to be involved unless you made contact and that in this occasion did not happen, did it?”

Ms Morley replied: “No.”

Earlier Mrs Deegan, a member of the visiting team from the DWP told how she's visited Seacroft on June 18 in 2012 after Margaret - who was receiving incapacity benefit - failed to turn up for a required medical check.

She spoke to Jones, who was the person appointed by the DWP to look after Margaret's benefits.

She told the jury: “Miss Jones said 'she's here, but she won't see you.'

"She told me it was because of her condition or mental health.”

Mrs Deegan added: “I reported this as a social work referral as I was concerned about Miss Fleming and Miss Jones' living conditions and state of mind, and also the fact Miss Fleming was not registered with a GP.

"Miss Jones told me it would not be a good idea getting a local GP.

“The living conditions were very, very poor.

"The house was really run down and not clean.”

Mr McSporran asked Mrs Deegan: “What did you then expect to happen?”

She replied: “A duty social worker should have visited them to follow up on welfare.”

The trial, before judge Lord Matthews, continues.