Lewes burnt a giant effigy of Vladimir Putin in a mankini

Dina Rickman@dinarickman
Thursday 06 November 2014 10:00
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The people of Lewes burnt an effigy of Vladimir Putin in a green mankini last night - but reportedly left Alex Salmond well alone.

Organisers said two effigies of the Scottish first minister were withdrawn from the Bonfire Night celebration, one of the largest in the UK, following a storm of social media protests.

Sussex Police later confirmed they had received a complaint and were investigating.

The furore began on Wednesday afternoon when East Sussex County Council tweeted a picture of one of the effigies made of Salmond by the Waterloo Bonfire Society, one of six organisations which take part in Lewes' annual celebrations.

A second, more flattering Putin effigy was also paraded around the town

Salmond was holding a sign saying "45%", referring to the percentage of Scottish people who voted 'yes' to independence in September's referendum, and had a Loch Ness monster over his shoulder. The council later deleted the tweet and clarified the effigy had nothing to do with them.

Sussex Police said in a statement: "We are aware of the portrayal of Scottish first minister Alex Salmond as an effigy at the 2014 Lewes Bonfire event and acknowledge that concerns have been raised.

"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."

An effigy of Salmond being paraded through Lewes

The Waterloo Bonfire Society told the Argus it had not intended to cause offence and was withdrawing the effigies, but the paper notes it is unclear whether this was before or after the police confirmed they had received a complaint.

"We are a traditional Sussex family bonfire society and have no political affiliations. We can assure that we have no wish or intention to offend and have never found ourselves in a position where we have done so in the past," the group said in a statement.

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