'Inappropriate, out-of-order and insensitive': Families furious after yearly fancy dress parade features Jimmy Savile themed float

Thousands watched the float, which featured a man dressed as serial sex predator Jimmy Savile surrounded by other men dressed as schoolgirls

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The Independent Online

The organisers of an annual community event in the Scottish Borders have been slammed for allowing an "offensive and insensitive" Jimmy Savile themed float to be part of a fancy dress parade.

Thousands of shocked spectators watched the float, which featured a man dressed as serial sex predator Jimmy Savile surrounded by other men dressed as schoolgirls, as it formed part of a parade through the town of Lauder in Berwickshire.

Branded one of the UK's most prolific sexual predators, Jimmy Savile has more than 200 criminal offences recorded against his name, including more than 30 rapes.

The float was part of the annual parade through Lauder to mark its Common Riding festivities and the float, entered into the competition by a group calling themselves the Twenty 10 Club, was awarded third place in the Best Vehicle category.

Some spectators branded the stunt "offensive", "insensitive" and "inappropriate" with others vowing not to return to the parade next year.

Gregory Kynoch from Edinburgh was in the crowd and said the stunt was "inappropriate" and "out of order" on the Facebook page of the Lauder Common Riding committee the following day.

He wrote: "One of your floats thought it would be 'funny' to do a cover of the theme tune from Jim with Fix it, and thought this would be seen as humour? Am sorry, in light of the events surrounding that programme and the revelations since it I feel that was a step WAY over the line.

"What I hoped would be a pleasant night and a good memory has now been tainted. I can see a lot of work went into the parade but fear that will be the outstanding memory for all who had the misfortune to witness it.

"Humour is funny. That was just out of order."

He also vowed not to attend the event in future.

In support of his message, Margaret Ryles also wrote a comment on the social networking site about the use of Jimmy Savile for fancy dress.

She said: "I feel there was no respect for those who were abused by this very sick sick man...and I think it was in very bad taste, offensive and insensitive."

Concern was also expressed by local politician Christine Grahame MSP whose constituency includes Lauder.

She said: "While I wouldn't want to censor anyone, I think that this has been a serious misjudgment.

"These gala days are fun, family days and I think it was in poor taste to have done this. The people involved have shown bad judgment and I hope that they reflect upon the offence that their actions will have caused to many people."

In response to the comments the organisers said: "Lauder Common Riding Committee is responsible for running one of the oldest and largest equestrian events in Europe.

"Our main aim is to ensure this event is run safely and for the enjoyment of spectators and the many hundreds who take part in all our events. This we have done very successfully both this year and in the past.

"Our fancy dress parade is only one element of our week and is a long-standing tradition. We have never censored anyone who has entered the event. It is up to the individuals who enter and their conscience to decide how they wish to express themselves and approach the event.

"People spectate and take part of their own free will. This year we did not receive any complaints about any of the entrants.

"We are obviously dismayed and understand that people are upset by the coverage one of the entries has received; however, we would reiterate that the committee does not condone or condemn the individual's right to enter the parade in their own way."

The chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, Peter Saunders, told the BBC: "There will have been many people at that event who will be survivors of childhood abuse. It a mathematical certainty and some of these people could have been very traumatised by what they saw.

"This is no laughing matter."

Additional reporting by the Press Association.