Moderator mistaken for jewel thief
The next Moderator of the Church of Scotland was mistaken for a jewel thief when she went to a ring fitting with a duplicate of a missing Kirk treasure.
Jewellery shop staff recognised the copy of the lost gold ring that Reverend Lorna Hood took in for adjustment, and called the police, the Church said.
The original ring and a historic cross, worn by the Moderator on official duties, were in a bag that went missing from Edinburgh Airport last month.
The Church is offering a four-figure sum of money for information leading to the safe return of the items. It never disclosed that it also has a duplicate of the ring.
It features a violet-coloured stone engraved with the burning bush, a distinctive symbol in the Church.
Shortly after Mrs Hood and her aide left the shop, police called the Church's head office in George Street, Edinburgh, to say that the missing ring had been taken to a jeweller's.
Mrs Hood said: "I thought my official photos as Moderator might end up on Crimewatch or end up with a serial number in front of it. I was thinking how it must seem and conclusions that might be drawn: two suspicious ladies walk into a shop; new Moderator is international jewel thief."
She will wear the duplicate ring when she becomes the next Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland when it opens on Saturday. The Church still hopes the treasure that went missing in early April will be returned.
Outgoing Moderator the Right Reverend Albert Bogle said: "I feel disappointed that the moderatorial ring and cross are no longer in my possession to pass to Lorna our moderator designate.
"While the cross and the ring have a historical significance and we look for their return, we need to keep our loss in a proper perspective. I have come to think of the cross not so much as having been stolen as having been taken on a journey by someone who has yet to encounter its power and significance. When they do, that in itself will be another story."