A FREE Church worshipper, who was banned after leading protests against the cleric Professor Donald Macleod, has failed in his bid to be readmitted to his local church.

Mr Paul Mansbacher said he would now leave the faith - and called it a cult - after the denomination's general assembly refused to accept both of his petitions to reverse the ban by Ayr Free Church.

It is not the first time Mr Mansbacher has been involved in controversy. He was sacked from his job as a computer systems manager after refusing to take part in a course for his American-owned company, claiming it was ''new-age brainwashing''.

He then fell foul of his local kirk for objecting to the presence of a Roman Catholic at an all-Christian meeting to deal with health problems affecting the young.

When Mr Mansbacher started handing out a nine-page anti-Professor Macleod document a week before he was due to attend Ayr Free Church it was the final straw for some members of the 60-strong congregation.

He was sent a letter from the session clerk Dr Allan MacPherson telling him to stay away from the church.

Now Mr Mansbacher's appeal to the general assembly has been refused he said: ''I will not pursue civil action and will instead leave the church which I feel has now become a cult.''

Ironically Professor Macleod has said he may also leave the church if the general assembly backs the appointment to key organisational posts of people he says are involved in a campaign against him.

In June last year Professor Macleod was cleared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court of five sexual harassment charges involving young women after Sheriff John Horsburgh QC said alleged conspirators opposed to his reformist views had plotted his downfall.

After being cleared Professor Macleod, 56, endured a campaign to oust him from the church on charges of heresy - as a result of newspaper articles he had written.

The charges were dropped after a show of support among ministers and normal worshippers for the professor.