November 6, 2014 / 12:12 PM / in 3 years

Police investigate English town's plans to burn effigy of Scot's leader

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond speaks at the "Yes" Campaign headquarters in Edinburgh, Scotland September 19, 2014. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

LONDON (Reuters) - Police are investigating plans to burn an effigy of defeated Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond at bonfire night celebrations in a southern English town after complaints of racism.

Salmond, who spearheaded a campaign for independence, is stepping down as Scotland’s First Minister and leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party after 55 percent of Scots voted to remain part of the United Kingdom in a September referendum.

Many members of the public took to social media to express their outrage after pictures showed two effigies of Salmond which were due to be burned in the town of Lewes as part of its annual Nov. 5 celebrations to commemorate the 1605 “Gunpowder Plot” to blow up the English parliament.

“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,” Sussex Police said in a statement.

One of the effigies depicted Salmond in a kilt with a Union Jack flag tied around his neck while the other showed him with a Loch Ness Monster over his shoulder and holding a sign with 45 percent on it, a reference to the proportion of voters who backed independence.

While the police said the effigies had been withdrawn, local media reported on Thursday that one was in fact blown up as the centerpiece of a fireworks display.

Lewes is well known for its bonfire night effigies and in previous years has set alight depictions of Osama bin Laden, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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