A hanging effigy of disgraced England soccer star David Beckham strung up outside a South Norwood pub with a noose around its neck, has sparked outrage this week.

But regulars at the Pleasant Pheasant in Portland Road told the Guardian that it was `just a joke'.

Police received a string of complaints from passers-by who noticed the dummy as it swung from a 16ft high scaffolding bar on Sunday morning. A police spokesman confirmed that they had removed the mannequin after nobody initially claimed it."We received a number of complaints from the public saying that they found it offensive. It was treated as property found in the street and taken away," he said.

Dressed in a white England number seven shirt with Beckham written across the back, the life-size dummy was dressed in a sarong similar to the one the star wore while on a pre-World Cup holiday with girlfriend Posh Spice Victoria Adams.

The vicar of St Luke's, Portland Road, the Reverend Peter Evans was outraged by the mock hanging. "It's appalling," he said. "Especially since we had a funeral recently of someone who died similarly. I think its sick. I really do. Okay, he messed up on the field, but that's just awful."

It later emerged that the dummy had spent the whole of the World Cup in the pub.

One regular said: "Everyone thought it was a laugh, just a joke. He was the pub mascot - it's about time he was hung."

Feelings have run high since Beckham was sent off during England's World Cup match against Argentina. Many fans blame him personally for England's defeat and early exit from the tournament. Regulars later collected the £400 dummy from South Norwood police station and returned it to the pub.

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