A retired catholic priest has been arrested in connection with a string of historic child sex abuse allegations.

Father Paul Moore, a former parish priest in Ayrshire, is now facing possible charges of "lewd and libidinous behaviour" towards children, according to police.

The 80-year-old was the priest at the centre of allegations involving children made by a fellow Ayrshire clergyman Patrick Lawson, who was forcibly removed from his post by the church in 2013.

Father Lawson went on to make a claim at an employment tribunal under whistleblowing legislation in a case which would have made legal history.

However, tribunal records show he has now dropped his claims for both unfair dismissal and being unfairly treated for making a public interest disclosure.

The landmark case would have been the first such claim against the church and could have changed the employment status of priests throughout the country.

The exact reason for Father Lawson's decision to withdraw the claims remains unclear.

Police have since confirmed Father Moore's arrest on December 8 last year and said a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal.

A Crown Office spokeswoman said: "The Procurator Fiscal at Kilmarnock received a report concerning an 80-year-old man in connection with alleged incidents said to have occurred between January 1975 and March 1996.

"The report remains under consideration."

Father Lawson has been outspoken about the allegations against Father Moore for almost 20 years and has claimed the church failed to deal with them appropriately.

In 2013, while recovering from cancer, he was issued with a decree of removal by Bishop John Cunningham, forcing him to leave his post and parish house within days. The church cited his ill-health as the reason for his removal.

Father Lawson, who was parish priest of St Sophia's in Galston and St Paul's in Hurlford, appealed against the decision at the church's highest court, the Signatura in Rome, but it upheld the original decision.

The priest then launched the employment tribunal against the Diocese of Galloway.

At the time the claim was made, Father Lawson's lawyer Cameron Fyfe said he was "breaking new ground", adding: "If he is successful, it would open the door to other priests in a similar position."

A spokesman for the Diocese of Galloway said: "We welcome the decision by Father Lawson to withdraw his employment tribunal claim against the Diocese in its entirety."

The arrest follows the launch of an inquiry into historical abuse of children in care by the Scottish Government.

Education Secretary Angela Constance, who has said the scope of the inquiry is "very far reaching", appointed Susan O'Brian QC to head the probe in May last year.

The inquiry has been tasked with investigating the nature and extent of abuse of children while in care in Scotland, and to consider the extent to which institutions and bodies with legal responsibility for the care of children failed in their duty of care.

When she established the inquiry last year, Ms Constance said it would "aim to shine a light in the dark corners of the past, to shape how we respond in the present and guide how we go forward in the future".

She also said that "we need to learn all we can to ensure no institution becomes a hiding place for those who abuse positions of trust to prey on children".

The church declined to comment on Father Moore's arrest.