Cambridgeshire

Cambridge University Conservatives ban £20 note burning accused

Pembroke College Image copyright Robert Edwards/Geograph
Image caption The student is reported to attend Pembroke College in Cambridge

Cambridge University Conservatives have expelled their communications officer over claims he taunted a homeless man by burning a £20 note.

The student, reported to be Ronald Coyne of Pembroke College, was filmed in Cambridge on 2 February.

The Tab student newspaper said images showed the student, in white tie, trying to set fire to the cash, before the camera panned to a homeless man.

The allegations are being investigated by university officials.

In a statement, a spokeswoman said the university was "aware of an incident" but could not comment further while the disciplinary process was under way.

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Images from a video taken in the early hours were sent to The Tab. The paper said Mr Coyne was a first year student from West Lothian.

The student's formal evening dress, seen in the video, is no longer commonly worn, according to Debrett's

A statement posted on Cambridge University Conservative Association's (CUCA) website said the "committee was made aware of the private behaviour of an individual member which we considered to be abhorrent and repugnant".

"We took immediate action to revoke his membership and expelled him from the association."

His actions were not representative of the group, it said.

'Distress and outrage'

Since the incident was publicised, Pembroke College has restricted comments on its official Facebook page.

The move was "to allow a period of calm reflection about an incident by a student which has caused distress and outrage to many people", it wrote.

"We expect our students to treat others with respect, courtesy and consideration at all times, and take allegations of unacceptable behaviour very seriously.

"However, social media is not the most suitable media for every type of discussion," the college added.

John Bird, the Cambridge-based founder of the Big Issue, said: "What I don't like about it, is that it's insulting to the very person they were trying to play this game on.

"But I'm more positive about the public than I am about an occasional scumbag who wants to prove their superiority because they're dolled up, and they've got the money."

Cambridgeshire Police said it had not received any reports or complaints.

The force said it was not a crime to burn a banknote.

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