MURDER accused Edward Cairney has been cleared of charges libelled during the Margaret Fleming murder trial.

He was cleared this morning of defrauding missing Margaret Fleming of £182,000 in benefits.

His co-accused Avril Jones is still accused of that charge which was allegedly committed between December 18, 1999 and October 26, 2017

Both are accused of murdering Margaret by means unknown between December 18, 1999 and January 5, 2000, at Seacroft, Main Road, Inverkip, or elsewhere in Scotland.

They deny the charges against them.

Today at the High Court in Glasgow prosecutor Iain McSporran QC withdrew a number of charges against the pair, prior to closing the Crown case

These included abducting and assaulting Margaret by locking her in a room, cutting her hair and binding her arms and wrists with tape on various occasions between November 1, 1997 and January 5, 2000 and attempting to defeat the ends of justice by disposing of Margaret's personal effects and pretending she was alive.

Prosecutor Iain McSporran QC said: “Either insufficient or no evidence was lead in support of them and I withdraw these charges.”

In respect of the benefits fraud charge Mr McSporran said: “I am withdrawing this charge against Mr Cairney, but not Avril Jones.”

Judge Lord Matthews told the pair: “The advocate depute has decided to withdraw a number of charges and I acquit you of these.”

A major police investigation was sparked on October 28, 2016, after a benefits claim submitted by Jones on Margaret's behalf raised concerns about her well-being.

Cairney and Jones claimed that Margaret fled when police came to speak to her, but allege that she has returned from time to time to collect her benefits money.

The court has heard that he last confirmed sighting of Margaret, who would now be 38, was at Jones' brother Richard's home in Inverkip , Inverclyde, on December 17, 1999.

The trial before Lord Matthews continues.