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Student body under fire over Obama effigy

The president of a Conservative students' association which burnt an effigy of Barack Obama has apologised for the group's actions.

A figure of the US president was set alight by members of the University of St Andrews Conservative and Unionist Association during a meeting at the weekend. Matthew Marshall, president of the association, said it was "a stupid thing to do".

Speaking to the BBC, he said: "President Obama is an important ally to the British Government. It was a stupid thing to do and we apologise for any offence caused." The university said it was aware of the reports, was "seeking clarification" and had asked to meet the society's president.

John Park, Labour MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, whose constituency includes the university, said: "This is gravely offensive and way beyond a student prank. Thousands of young people yearn for the chance to study at such a prestigious institution and they will be amazed to see that those who have been given that opportunity behave like this.

"These people need to spend some time in the real world. Burning an effigy of anyone is offensive, let alone the first black president of the United States. The overtones are deeply unpleasant."