IMMEDIATE action must be taken to make sure that the disappearance and murder of Margaret Fleming is never allowed to happen again, senior councillors have warned.

The health and social care committee has welcomed the decision to hold a significant case review into all the circumstances surrounding the tragic case.

Margaret's carers Eddie Cairney and Avril Jones were convicted in June last year of killing the vulnerable young woman and covering it up for almost 20 years while claiming over £180,000 in benefits in her name.

SNP group leader Chris McEleny told the committee it was a sad reflection on our society and that tough questions now had to be asked.

He said: "Margaret was failed by the carers who were supposed to look after her.

"She was failed by those with a duty of care to protect her and she was failed by a society who stopped noticing that she even existed for 20 years.

"We cannot shy away from the difficult subject and the tough questions as a council, so as to make sure that this is never allowed to happen again."

He also criticised health and social care bosses for not bringing the case to the committee sooner.

Councillor McEleny added:"I am aghast that we are only discussing this at committee now, after a high profile BBC documentary."

The councillor said he wants the significant case review to look at why Margaret - who had been known to social workers - was left in the hands of Cairney and Jones and then fell off the radar.

He said: "We have to know why these people, who clearly couldn't even look after themselves, were allowed to care for a vulnerable woman who then dropped off the radar for 20 years.

"Yet they picked up benefits.

"We have been the biggest critics of the welfare reforms, but if it hadn't been for the benefit changes would this have ever have come to light?"

Head of health and community care Allen Stevenson told the committee that they had not been in a position to announce anything about the serious case review until after all the legal proceedings had concluded.

He said: "This has been going through the appropriate channels of the adult protection committee and reported to the chief officers."

Council leader Stephen McCabe said: "I think everybody through this whole process has found this a extremely disturbing and indeed a very sad case.

"The victim was a vulnerable young woman who has lost her life.

"It is tragedy for her remaining relatives and it is a tragedy for this community.

"I contacted the officers myself and was told there would be a significant case review.

"The significant case review will look at the circumstances.

"Any agency or service found to be failing will be held to account.

"This is just as important as cases involving young children and babies.

"We have seen in these circumstances people hounded out of jobs.

"We must make sure the review is thorough and transparent."