There has been a public outcry over a British student who allegedly set fire to a £20 note in front of homeless man as part of what is thought be a college initiation ritual.
The student, Ronald Coyne, claims to be a relative of Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, but she denies this.
Coyne, who is a student at the prestigious Cambridge University in England, was allegedly filmed setting fire to the note by a fellow student. Such pranks are often used as initiation ceremonies for exclusive college social clubs. He was wearing a formal dress suit and white tie after a night out with friends.
Coyne was the communications officer for the Cambridge University Conservative Association but has been forced to resign.
The student newspaper, The Tab, spoke to a Cambridge resident who saw the student soon after the incident. He 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.”
A Cambridge University Conservative Association spokesman said Coyne’s behaviour 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.”
Coyne had allegedly claimed he was Nicola Sturgeon’s nephew, but a spokesman for the Scottish Government denied he was a direct relative.
He said: “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 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, from Livingston, West Lothian, said she was baffled by her son’s behaviour.
“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.”
Coyne’s actions brought widespread criticism on social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. He has so far made no comment about the incident.