A man has been filmed attempting to set fire to a £20 note in front of a homeless person.
Varsity has been as yet unable to confirm the identity of the person in the video. However, multiple sources contacted by Varsity have identified him as Pembroke student Ronald Coyne, allegedly a distant relation of Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister’s Office confirmed to Varsity that “the individual is not a direct relative of the First Minister or her husband”.
The incident is reported to have taken place on Bridge Street, Cambridge, early in the morning of Thursday 2nd February. A video of the incident was reportedly uploaded to Snapchat.
The Cambridge Tab, who have screenshots of the footage, published the story on Thursday morning. The Tab reported that the individual concerned was a member of Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA).
The video reportedly shows the student dressed in white tie and trying to set the banknote alight, before panning to the homeless person.
CUCA confirmed to Varsity that the individual in the video was Communications Officer on their Executive Committee. The Association said that they had become aware of the incident on the evening of 2nd February. They claim then to have demanded the student’s resignation from the Executive Committee, which was apparently given within an hour. The student was subsequently expelled from the Association entirely.
The CUCA Executive told Varsity that the student had attended a parents’ formal at Pembroke College on the night of the incident.
The person who filmed the video was not a CUCA member, according to the CUCA Executive.
CUCA has also responded publicly with an open letter to the editors of the Tab.
The University 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. We do not comment on individual cases.”
The homeless man caught in the video has said that the incident was “absolutely disgusting”. He said that Coyne had originally offered him the £20 note, but then withdrawn it and set it alight, whilst taunting him.
He added: “It was horrible. Just plain nasty. I suppose it’s better than getting punched and kicked or even spat on because that has happened before.”
Varsity has contacted Coyne, and the individual thought to have filmed the video, for comment.
CUCA’s open letter in full
Dear Tab Editors,
I am writing in complaint that the article which you have published in relation to the below falls short of all reasonable journalistic standards, and is a poorly executed ‘hatchet job’ on CUCA.
Despite it being made very clear that the person in your article was not at, en route to, or from, a CUCA event, you nonetheless centered the article around CUCA. I believe I am right in saying that he is a member of the Union, the Law Society, Pembroke JCR, and a reader of the Tab. Were these Associations approached for comment, and if so, why was his membership of them not made clear in the article? What is it about CUCA which makes us more responsible for his abominable behaviour than anyone else?
Indeed, to my knowledge, we are alone among the above Associations to have taken steps to expel him from our ranks. Does the Union not condemn this behaviour?
The final line reads, “This is not the first time in recent months CUCA have been embroiled in scandal. In June 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”.
Can you confirm why you believe CUCA is embroiled in scandal? Are we embroiled in scandal because you have decided as much? Again, why is CUCA singled out for scanal?
I would appreciate your thoughts on the above matter, and for you to give serious consideration to the fairness and accuracy of your article.
With my best wishes
Cambridge University Conservative Association
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