Police To Probe Salmond Effigy Row

6 November 2014, 06:02 | Updated: 6 November 2014, 06:41

Police will investigate a complaint about the portrayal of Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond as an effigy at a bonfire in southern England last night.

It was thought the effigy would be burnt after being paraded through a town's streets as part of its annual bonfire celebrations.

East Sussex County Council tweeted a picture of the model created by the Waterloo Bonfire Society for the Lewes Bonfire parade which attracts thousands of people to the East Sussex town every year.

However they were quick to disassociate themselves of any involvement in creating the effigy following a backlash against it.

The model shows Mr Salmond holding a sign which says 45%, the number of Scottish people who voted for independence from the UK in September, while the Loch Ness Monster peers over his shoulder.

Sussex Police said last night it was aware of the portrayal of Mr Salmond at the event and acknowledged that concerns had been raised.

It added: "Whilst we accept there is a long tradition of creating effigies of high-profile individuals in politics, sport, the media, etc, a complaint has nevertheless been received and will be investigated.''

The force also tweeted: "For those enquiring we have been advised that there won't be any burning of the Alex Salmond effigies this evening in Lewes.''

Anne McLaughlin, a managing director of a communications company, tweeted: "Can it possibly be acceptable or even legal 2burn an effigy of a LIVING PERSON? Not part of my moral code. @EastSussexCC you are despicable!''

But the council rebuffed the criticism and replied: "Please note that the Alex Salmond and Nessie models were created by Waterloo Bonfire Society #LewesBonfire and have NO connection to ESCC.''

Television presenter and journalist Piers Morgan also tried to soften the blow by tweeting: "Don't take this Lewes bonfire thing too personally @AlexSalmond - they burned me too.''

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland: "I'm in pretty good company - Angela Merkel got the burning treatment from the East Sussex Conservative council.

"I think their judgment is askew but if they think I'm a threat to the Westminster establishment like Guy Fawkes, they are right.

"I am used to insults from Tories in East Sussex and if they think that is a good thing to do it is up to them.''

He added that he was more concerned about Nessie being burned and said it was "totally outrageous''.

Mr Salmond and Nessie were due to be paraded through the town before being blown up at the Waterloo Bonfire Society's fireworks display at Malling Brooks.

The society, which is celebrating is 50th anniversary since it was reformed, said it would be charging an admission fee to watch the display for the first time in its history because of rising costs of securing the site and meeting health and safety obligations.

The first Bonfire Societies in Lewes were set up in 1853 as a way to organise the riotous annual celebrations by the "Bonfire Boys'', which often led to fires and disorder.

Each society has its own particular costumes, bonfire site and procession route within the town.

Bonfire in Lewes does not only commemorate the gunpowder plot, but also other events including the burning of 17 Protestant martyrs in the town's High Street from 1555 to 1557 under the reign of Mary Tudor.