A PRIEST who was suspended over unfounded allegations of historic sexual abuse is set to make a return to full ministry in Scotland - over seven months after police said there was no case to answer.

Father Paul Morton is expected to return to St Bride's RC church in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, following the conclusion of a Catholic church canonical inquiry.

Campaigners calling for the re-instatement delivered a 2,037-signature petition to the Chancellor of the Diocese of Motherwell in September, almost a year after the priest was removed from his home and parish following the anonymous claims.

Father Morton, 55, was cleared of any wrongdoing in May after being falsely accused in 2014.

Many worshippers at St Bride’s wanted him reinstated and criticised the Catholic Church for dragging its heels on the issue.

When the petition was presented, there was no public reaction from Joseph Toal, the Bishop of Motherwell, who ordered the priest’s suspension in the first place.

Now in a message sent to the 'Bring Back Father Paul Morton' campaigners, his family confirmed he is on his way back to the ministry.

The message signed by Father Morton's four brothers and two sisters said: "We, the brothers and sisters of Father Paul, welcome the news concluding the Canonical Inquiry and its decision to return Father Paul to full ministry.

"We also wish to offer our heartfelt thanks to all his friends in the parish and beyond who from day one have never doubted his innocence and sought justice on his behalf. We now await Paul’s return to his parish of St Bride’s in Cambuslang."

The news was greeted with jubilation by supporters.

Paul Rooney said: "Fantastic news for everybody. Just a shame that it took so long for the church to do the right thing. There won't be an empty seat when Fr Morton makes his exceptionally belated return to the place where he belongs. An early Christmas present for us all."

Bishop Toal said: "I recently concluded the preliminary canonical investigation into the evidence available following the conclusion of the police investigation into the allegations made against Fr Paul Morton. In forwarding the papers of the canonical investigation to the Holy See I recommended that no further canonical action is necessary. This is because neither the police nor the canonical investigation have found evidence to substantiate the allegations made. Although the canonical investigation took some time, it was a necessary step for me to take as a Bishop. We can look forward now to Fr Morton’s return to ministry."