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 the Rev 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 for information leading to the safe return of the items. It never disclosed that it also had 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 about 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 when it opens on Saturday.
The Church still hopes the treasure that went missing in early April will be returned.
Outgoing Moderator, the Rt Rev 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.”
Anyone with information can call police on 101 or visit their nearest police office.