Bonfire Night 2014: Effigy of ex-SNP leader Alex Salmond escapes flames at Lewes event

The town in East Sussex is famed for its controversial Bonfire Night parades

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The Independent Online

Pouring salt on Alex Salmond’s wounds fresh from losing the Scottish Referendum, a society taking part in the UK’s biggest bonfire night celebration had planned to burn an effigy of the former SNP leader.

Waterloo Bonfire Society, one of the seven organisations which take part in Lewes Bonfire Night, built a model of a giant Humpty Dumpty-like Salmond holding a sign reading “45%” – referring to the percentage of Scots who voted for independence. A separate model of Salmond shows him topless and draped in a Union Jack flag, flashing his pants from under his kilt.

But Sussex Police later said that the effigy would not be burned as they investigated a complaint.

As preparations for tonight’s celebration got underway, East Sussex County Council (ESCC) tweeted an image of the model on a Lewes street. 

But following a Twitter backlash, the authority stressed that the model had “no connection to ESCC” and has since deleted the photo. However, screen grabs taken earlier of the image remain on the social media website.

Twitter user Anne McLaughlin, who sports a ‘Yes’ campaign logo in her profile pictured, posted: “Can it possibly be acceptable or even legal 2burn an effigy of a LIVING PERSON? Not part of my moral code.”

Later tonight, Sussex Police 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."

By appearing at Lewes Bonfire night, Alex Salmond joins a long line of famous faces whose effigies have been burned at the annual event.

In 2012, a model of Angela Merkel was paraded through the town’s streets before being set alight.

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."

Meanwhile, Paul V, the Pope in 1605 when the gun powder pot was planned, is paraded and burned annually by the Cliffe Bonfire Society, who march under a ‘No Popery’ banner. In Lewes, the persistent anti-Catholic sentiment derives from a horrific incident in the town's history, when 17 Lewes protestants were burned at the stake under the reign of Mary Tudor.

Additional reporting by PA