A MAJOR probe into how murdered Margaret Fleming's welfare was handled by Inverclyde Council social workers is set to get under way.

The fully independent investigation — called a Significant Case Review [SCR] — will examine the actions of all officials who had responsibility for Margaret.

Killer carers Eddie Cairney and Avril Jones killed her and managed to keep the crime secret for nearly 20 years.

Meanwhile, a total of £182,00 worth of benefits due to Margaret continued to be paid to Jones during this time.

The council yesterday confirmed that the SCR inquiry will be headed up by Professor Jean MacLellan OBE, a former social worker and now the director of the Autism Network Scotland.

A spokesman for the local authority said: "We have always been very clear that there will be a full independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Margaret Fleming's tragic death.

"However, the legal process had to run its course first.

"We were advised by the procurator fiscal that the inquiry couldn't start until the trial of Edward Cairney and Avril Jones, and any subsequent appeals, were complete."

The inquiry's first planning meeting has been scheduled to take place next month.

Margaret's murderers were caught after a change to benefits system in 2016 raised alarm bells over an application made out on her behalf by Jones.

The council spokesman said: "This will be a full, independent inquiry which will involve all the agencies which were involved with Margaret during her life.

"The final report will be published when it is complete.

"We expect that this will take some six months.

"A key area for the SCR team will be to uncover any lessons that are to be learned from the extensive cover up carried out by Edward Cairney and Avril Jones to hide their appalling treatment of Margaret, while she was in their care, and the murder that they subsequently committed."

Inquiry head Professor MacLellan spent much of her career as a social work inspector and senior civil servant in the Scottish Government.

She led policy on adult protection, autism, carers, learning disability, sensory impairment and self-directed support.

Prof MacLellan has written extensively on policy development, implementation and evaluation.

The council's SNP group leader Chris McEleny, today welcomed the inquiry.

He said: “It’s welcome news that after calling on this inquiry to take place that the council have accepted it’s fundamentally important that it does happen.

"Margaret was failed by her carers and failed by those with a duty of care to ensure her protection.

"It’s vitally important that we now establish how this was allowed to happen and ensure that there are no similar cases out there."