South Scotland

'Jimmy Savile and schoolgirls' parade float criticised by MSP

Lauder float
Organisers said it was up to individuals how they wish to express themselves

An MSP has described as "distasteful" a fancy-dress float featuring a man dressed as Jimmy Savile.

The float was taking part in a parade following the Lauder Common Riding celebrations in the Borders.

It featured a man dressed as the late television presenter and several others dressed as schoolgirls.

A Metropolitan Police report has described Savile as a "prolific, predatory sex offender" who abused more than 200 people over a 60-year period.

The Jim'll Fix It branded float was entered into the Lauder parade by members of the local Twenty 10 Club on 31 July - and was awarded third place in the Best Vehicle category.

Christine Grahame MSP, whose constituency includes Lauder, said the float was "not a good idea" and in "plain bad taste".

She added that the events were supposed to be fun and common sense should have prevailed to stop the float taking part.

'Very traumatised'

The choice of subject for the float was condemned by the National Association for People Abused in Childhood.

Chief executive Peter Saunders said: "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."

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'll 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."

'Offensive and insensitive'

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."

In response to the comments, the common riding 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."

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