One of Moray’s most senior ministers has been suspended after being charged with attacking a woman.
The shocked congregation at Keith North Church was told at the weekend that the Rev Alastair Gray had been temporarily relieved of his duties and would not be taking services.
Parishioners were told of the changes at the beginning of the weekly service but were not told the reason why.
Now it has been revealed that the minister, who is also the clerk of the Moray Presbytery, has been suspended after police were called to investigate an assault alleged to have taken place this month.
Yesterday, the Church of Scotland confirmed that Mr Gray had been relieved from his duties until the outcome of court proceedings.
It is understood he is currently not living at the manse for Keith North Church – which covers the villages of Newmill, Boharm and Rothiemay.
Recently, he has also been fulfilling the role of interim moderator at the St Rufus, Botriphnie and Grange Church, which is also in the town, due to it not having its own minister.
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Mr Gray has been based in Moray for nearly three years since moving from the Bower, Watten and Halkirk parish, near Wick, in Caithness where he was also a member of the Wick Choral Society.
A spokesman for the Church of Scotland said: “We can confirm that the Rev Alastair Gray is currently suspended from his duties pending the receipt of a complaint and the outcome of court proceedings.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
A police spokeswoman said: “A 65-year-old man has been charged in relation to an alleged assault on a woman in the Keith area in October. A report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”
The Rev Stuart Duff, moderator of the Moray Presbytery, declined to comment yesterday.
A spokeswoman for the Crown Office confirmed the case remained under consideration.