Pembroke College, where Coyne is a studentWikimedia: Monsarc

The Cambridge student who was filmed burning a £20 note in front of a homeless man is to return to the University, Pembroke College have announced in an email to students.

Ronald Coyne, left, burned the note in FebruaryFacebook

Ronald Coyne, a Law student, has also written a letter of apology for his actions.

The incident took place on Bridge Street in February of this year, with Coyne attempting to burn the money in front of Ryan Davies, a 31-year old unemployed crane operator, while dressed in white tie. A video was later uploaded to Snapchat.

A letter of apology, written by Coyne, was sent to Pembroke students on Thursday.

COYNE’S APOLOGY

❝ Dear all,

As you may recall, earlier this year it was widely reported in the media that I attempted to set alight to a £20 note on Bridge Street in Cambridge. Until now, there had been an ongoing disciplinary process on a University and college level which had meant I couldn’t respond publicly. Now that these processes have concluded, I am setting out to try to remedy some of the hurt caused by my actions. As one of those steps, I want to take the opportunity to apologise.

My actions were wrong and without thought or consideration. I abused my privilege as a student at such a great university, and behaved in a way which is totally contrary to the values of the university and of its students. I acknowledge that my behaviour put the entire university in a negative light, and for that I am sorry. For the effect that my behaviour had on you as a community, I am also sorry.

I am extremely fortunate to have a place at Cambridge. My experience of Cambridge was of a place which is positive, accepting, and friendly. Yet on that evening, I forgot what it really meant to study at Cambridge. I misrepresented what it meant to be a student here. The gift of a great education should be a tool to enrich society, not an excuse to debase it. I made a terrible mistake, and I quite rightly faced disciplinary action for it. I have addressed the root causes of my behaviour by attending awareness classes, relating to both alcohol and social inclusion.

I am truly sorry for the upset I have caused my fellow students. I cannot begin to express my heartfelt remorse for the guilt by association you all faced, on many levels. When the media commentary flared up, strangers sent piles of abusive mail to my family home threatening me with violence, and chemical attacks. I received some sympathetic letters and emails from people who thought that the online abuse went too far. To those people, I am still grateful. I would like to end by repeating my deep regret at the offence and hurt caused by my actions, and asking for a second chance.

Ronald Coyne ❞


Coyne had previously served on the executive of Cambridge University Conservative Association, though immediately resigned and was expelled from the group. However, it was unclear what disciplinary action had been taken by the University or by Pembroke College. The University did not issue a statement in the aftermath of the event as to what action was taken against Coyne.


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Responding to the incident in February, a Cambridge University spokesperson 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.”

At the time, a petition calling for Coyne to be expelled from the University received over 17,000 signatures. That number now stands at 23,224. Students also raised more than £4,000 for Jimmy’s Night Shelter.