An effigy of former Scottish nationalist leaer Alex Salmond has been saved from the fireworks at Lewes bonfire celebrations tonight - and sparked a police investigation.

East Sussex County Council this afternoon tweeted a picture of a large effigy created by the Waterloo Bonfire Society of  Mr Salmond, with Nessie peering over his shoulder.

But the local authority quickly deleted it after being bombarded with abusive tweets.

The tweet read: "A sneak preview of Alex Salmond and Nessie ahead of tonight's bonfire in Lewes - it just rolled up at County Hall."

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But the mesasage quickly captured the ire of Scottish nationalists.

Anne McLaughlin tweeted: "Can it possibly be acceptable or even legal 2burn an effigy of a LIVING PERSON? Not part of my moral code. @EastSussexCC you are despicable!"

After deleting the tweet, East Sussex added: "Please note that the Alex Salmond and Nessie models were created by Waterloo Bonfire Society #LewesBonfire and have NO connection to ESCC."

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland he was "used to insults from Tories in East Sussex" and questioned the judgement of those behind the effigy.

But he said he was more worried about Nessie, who will also to be burned.

Then at 9pm Sussex Police said: "We have been advised that there won't be any burning of the Alex Salmond effigies this evening in Lewes.”

A later statement said: "Sussex Police are aware of the portrayal of Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond as an effigy at the 2014 Lewes Bonfire event and acknowledge that concerns have been raised.

"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."

And there was no sign of the Salmond effigy in the Waterloo parade.

In a statement, the Waterloo Bonfire Society said it had a "tradition of creating satirical tableaux in caricature based on topical local, national and international events".

It said: "It is a tradition which has endured for many years and is intended to portray familiar stories and characters in a light hearted way. Clearly the Scottish Referendum has been a big story in the news recently and Alex Salmond is high a profile figure.

"We are a traditional Sussex family bonfire society and have no political affiliations. We can assure that we have no wish or intention to offend and have never found ourselves in a position where we have done so in the past. To clarify we do not burn tableaux. They are incorporated into our firework display.

"In the light of the responses received to our tableau idea this year we have made the decision to withdraw it from our celebrations."

It was not clear if the society had pulled the effigy from the flames after advice from police.

But a pictures of second effigy of Salmond,  created by the Commercial Square bonfire society, being incorporated into the fireworks display were published on Twitter.



Two effigies of Vladimir Putin were also paraded through the streets of Lewes - one of him wearing a mankini and a second of him with a shot-down Malaysian Airlines plane.


In the past PM David Cameron, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and Osama bin Laden have been burnt in Lewes.

The societies' effigies remain closely guarded secrets until the night of the Lewes Bonfire.

Police officers on the scene believe about 45,000 people to have flocked to the town for the celebrations - 10,000 more than last year.

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