Sunday 17 December 2017

Pictured: The Cambridge University student who was filmed burning a £20 note in front of a homeless person

Student Ronald Coyne
Student Ronald Coyne

Rozina Sabur

A Cambridge University student who claims he is a direct relative of Nicola Sturgeon has been kicked out of the Conservative Association after being filmed burning a £20 note in front of homeless person.

Student Ronald Coyne was allegedly caught on film setting fire to the banknote while wearing a white bow tie and tails in Cambridge.

A shocked passer-by watched while the drunk Cambridge student, a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association and has since been expelled from the group.

In the video, the student struggles to light the note, while the film-maker panned to the homeless person.

The student says "some homeless shelter", and the video, which was allegedly taken in the early hours of February 2, cuts out.

It has been rumoured that burning a £50 note in front of a homeless person is one of the initiation ceremonies of Oxford's notorious Bullingdon club.

Speaking to student newspaper The Tab, a Cambridge resident who saw the student soon after the incident said: "I was blocked from getting into my college as some chap in white tie was being excluded by the porters.

"I saw the videos of what he did the next morning, and am utterly shocked and appalled that someone would do such a thing.

"I'm sure I speak on behalf of the student body when I say that we condemn such actions."

White tie is the most formal dress code, even more so than Black tie and is usually reserved for the highest of high profile events - like state dinners with the Queen, Nobel Prize ceremonies, and Magdalene May Ball.

Some members of the Cambridge University Conservative Association are known to regularly wear white tie to CUCA dinners.

Ex-cabinet minister Ken Clarke is a former chairman, while ex-chief whip Andrew Mitchell and Lord Speaker Lord Fowler are both still Honorary Vice-Presidents.

The current Honorary President is prominent historian Andrew Roberts.

A Cambridge University Conservative Association spokesman said the behaviour of Coyne, who was the association’s communications officer, was "abhorrent and repugnant".

He added: "The CUCA committee became aware of serious allegations against Ronald Coyne late last week concerning his private behaviour.

"His resignation was immediately demanded and we determined the appropriate response to be to permanently revoke his membership and bar him from all future events, which we did on Saturday.

"There is no place for people who behave like this in CUCA, however we must emphasise that he was no more representing CUCA in his behaviour than he was another other University Association of which he may be member.

"Notwithstanding, we wish to totally disassociate ourselves from the individual and his behaviour."

However this is not the first time in recent months CUCA have been embroiled in scandal.

In June last year CUCA had to defend themselves against multiple allegations of sexism after varsity revealed that the women's officer felt she had "faced open ridicule" and "aggressive sexism".

A source said Coyne told fellow students over a number of years he was Nicola Sturgeon's nephew, but a spokesman for the Scottish Government denied he was a direct relative.

He said: "The individual is not a direct relative of the First Minister or her husband.

"It's as simple as that."

A spokeswoman added: "They are not really related, the connection is so distant it doesn't even count as a relation, there are six or seven degrees between them.

"He might go around saying he is her nephew but he's not.

"She has no recollection of ever meeting him. Somewhere along the line his dad is the brother of the ex-husband of the sister of the First Minster's husband."

A Cambridge University spokesman said the university did not comment on individual cases but added: "The University is committed to respecting the rights and dignity of all members of our community.

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

Ronald's mum, Sandra McLaughlin, 46, said she could not understand her son's behaviour.

Speaking from their family home in Livingston, West Lothian, she said: "I don't recognise that behaviour in my son.

"I don't really know why he's done something so thoughtless and cruel.

"It's completely out of character. He did two years of volunteering at Stockbridge shelter homeless shop in Edinburgh when he was still at school."

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