msnbc.com
updated 11/24/2011 7:31:50 AM ET 2011-11-24T12:31:50

A Conservative party college student association in Britain will send a written apology to Barack Obama after its members burned an effigy of the U.S. president, it was announced Thursday.

Matthew Marshall, the President of the Conservative and Unionist Association at St Andrews University, in Scotland,apologized "unreservedly" for the incident, which took place on a beach last weekend.

A source said a number of the Conservative group's committee members were Americans who support the Republican party.

The University — founded in 1413 and where Prince William and Kate Middleton both studied and met — said the society would be writing to Obama to apologize.

Members of the association burned the effigy after its committee chose the U.S. president over the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, a student official told msnbc.com on Wednesday.

The incident took place on a beach in St. Andrews on Friday as part of a tradition by the society that has seen effigies of former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown burned and former South African President Nelson Mandela hung among others.

'Satisfied'
A statement issued by the university on Thursday said: "We are satisfied that while the actions of the St Andrews Conservative Association in burning an effigy of President Obama were naïve and crassly insensitive, they were not intentionally racist."

A student walks in the grounds of St Andrews University, Scotland.
David Moir  /  Reuters, file
A student walks in the grounds of St Andrews University.

"This incident however has caused very understandable offence and concern to many people and the University deeply regrets this," it added.

Story: Obama effigy burned by right-wing students in UK

"We have met the President of the Conservative Association to make him aware of the University's very serious concerns and he has been quick to make an unreserved public apology, and it is correct that he has done so," the statement said. "We welcome his assurance that this practice will not be repeated. The Conservative Association is also to write to offer a personal apology to President Obama."

Marshall had earlier said he was sorry the incident had happened.

"President Obama is an important ally to the British government. It was a stupid thing to do and we apologize for any offense caused," he said.

It is unclear who was actually responsible for the burning of the effigy.

Msnbc.com's Alastair Jamieson and Ian Johnston contributed to this report.

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