Sussex

Alex Salmond Lewes bonfire effigies 'not criminal'

Alex Salmond effigy Image copyright East Sussex Council
Image caption Alex Salmond said he was more concerned about Nessie being burnt than the fate of the effigies of himself

No criminal action is to be taken over effigies of Alex Salmond that were unveiled as part of an East Sussex town's bonfire celebrations.

Sussex Police investigated a number of complaints about two effigies of the outgoing first minister that were unveiled at the Lewes' annual event.

Both effigies were withdrawn from the celebrations after protests on social media but one was later blown up.

The force said it had been advised that "no criminal offence had occurred".

One of the effigies showed Mr Salmond complete with a "Yes" badge, a sign saying "45%" and the Loch Ness monster looking over his shoulder.

The other depicted the Scottish first minister wearing a kilt and sitting on a barrel of North Sea oil.

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Media captionAn effigy of Alex Salmond was blown up during bonfire celebrations in Lewes.

Photographs later emerged which showed the second effigy, created by the Commercial Square Bonfire Society, being blown up in a firework display.

'Long tradition'

In a statement, Sussex Police said they had "presented the complaints to the Crown Prosecution Service and it has been identified that no criminal offence occurred".

"Effigies have long been a tradition at the annual event, with high-profile politicians and celebrities who have recently been in the news being featured in bonfire society processions," they continued.

"The event organisers have made it clear that there was no intention to cause insult to anyone or any particular country by the choice of effigy: simply that the person chosen has been a popular media figure in the preceding 12 months."

At the time, the Waterloo Bonfire Society, which produced the effigy of Mr Salmond and the Loch Ness Monster, said it had a "tradition of creating satirical" caricatures and "no wish or intention to offend".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The effigy was made by one of the bonfire societies which take part in the Lewes event every year

Mr Salmond questioned the judgement of those behind the effigies, but said he was more concerned about Nessie being burnt than the fate of any portrayal of himself.

The Waterloo and Commercial Square bonfire societies parade through the town every year with four other societies every year.

An effigy of David Cameron holding a "puppet Nick Clegg" was burned in Lewes in 2010. Other effigies in previous years have included Osama Bin Laden.

The event is said to be one of the largest bonfire celebrations in the UK, with 45,000 people attending.

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