Sturgeon denies link to Tory student who taunted homeless man

Ronald Coyne was caught burning notes in front of a homeless man. Picture: Cambridge University Conservative Association
Ronald Coyne was caught burning notes in front of a homeless man. Picture: Cambridge University Conservative Association
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The Scottish Government has denied a Cambridge student who burnt a £20 in front of a homeless man is a “direct” relative of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

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The student burned money in front of a homeless man as shocked passers-by looked on. Picture: SWNS

The student burned money in front of a homeless man as shocked passers-by looked on. Picture: SWNS

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

He was kicked out of the Cambridge University Conservative Association where he was the communications officer.

A source said he 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 added: “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.”

George Clarke, founder of Embrace Cambridge, a charity that works with homeless people in Cambridge, said drunk students should not be abusing homeless people.

He added: “There is a disturbing precedent for intoxicated Cambridge students abusing rough sleepers in the city, but as well as calling out this disgraceful behaviour wherever we find it we can and should remember that there is a real heart for charity at this university too.”

Video of the incident was seen by hundreds of students after it was shared on Snapchat.

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 cuts out, which was allegedly taken in the early hours of February 2.

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.”

Cambridge University Conservative Association said the student has been expelled from the association but added that the burning of money was not done before or after a CUCA event.

A Cambridge University Conservative Association spokesman said the 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.

“There is no room for people who behave like that in our Association, any other University Association, or frankly our University.

“This disgusting and abhorrent behaviour occurred completely independently of CUCA, and did not take place before or after any CUCA event.

“This is borne out by our term card and Facebook events. 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.