The petition to boot the £20 note burning law student out of Cambridge is a step too far

Enough is enough

Coyne

Ronald Coyne will want to put the events of the past few days behind him.

The apparently quiet and mild-mannered University of Cambridge law student hit headlines across the country on Thursday after footage emerged of him burning a £20 note. Fanning the flames of internet outrage, the 18-year-old, wearing a formal dress code know as white tie, chose to carry out the cash burning stunt in the vicinity of a homeless man.

Now, before I become the subject of my own internet bashing, I would like to make it clear from the start that Coyne’s behaviour is abhorrent. However, a petition calling for Coyne to be kicked out of the elite university — which has received over 20,000 signatures since it was set up a few days ago — is a step too far.

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It’s a step too far firstly, and perhaps of most importance given the focus of this website, because of Coyne’s future career in law. I think everyone is in agreement that as a result of his drunken mistake, his chances of securing a training contract/pupillage have been dealt a severe blow. With social media checks common-place at the top City firms, it wouldn’t take a graduate recruiter very long to stumble across Coyne’s past indiscretion. With this in mind, setting up a petition is the online equivalent of punching a man teenager while he’s already heading towards the canvas.

I also question whether there would have been half as much outrage if Coyne’s background had been different. What if the young aspiring lawyer had attended a less prestigious university? Had he not been educated at a public school? If he was not, until recently, a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA)? I certainly don’t think there would be a petition calling for him to be booted off his course if this was the case.

The tabloids — which are motivated by sales and clicks — can frame this incident how they like. ‘Oh, it was a representation of the elitism rife within Cambridge,’ or ‘Coyne is just a typical Tory supporting toff.’ These were the actions of a naive young man who fell foul to social media’s all-seeing eye. Nothing more, nothing less. The petition is born out of the media’s portrayal of what it believes Coyne represents. Lets not make him a scapegoat for what are bigger problems at play.

Please don’t get me wrong, Coyne’s behaviour should be punished. However let’s put down the pitchforks and torches and try and achieve something positive from this sorry mess. Channeling public anger into raising money for the homeless in Cambridge would be a far more productive response. Maybe Coyne himself should do some volunteering at a local soup kitchen or shelter. A petition — presumably created by someone who has never even met Coyne nor knows how this incident has impacted him — preventing him from finishing his legal studies is not the answer.

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106 Comments

Trumpenkrieg

But of course.

Throwing him off his course is a step too far.

Every step before that right up to and including plastering his name all over the top of Legal Cheek so his name is connected with this stupid act in the mind of everyone who googles him for the rest of his life (including potential employers) is perfectly fine and to be encouraged… especially if it increasea Legal Cheek traffic!

(7)(5)
Anonymous

Exactly what I was thinking. Legal Cheek exposed him, wrote articles adding fuel to the fire and now have the cheek (get it?) to write this bull.

(17)(4)
Danny

LC exposed him? It was the top story on the Mail Online for 6 hours before they got hold of it.

(19)(0)
Anonymous

His name was already public knowledge via National Newspapers. I doubt this made any difference

(8)(0)
Anonymous

We live in an age of such hatred. I’m glad there’s an article putting this affair into perspective.

(13)(10)
Anonymous

About as sensible as a large armaments manufacturer lamenting the dead and wounded in one of the ongoing Middle Eastern conflicts, all the while as he ships hundreds of millions-worth of fighter-bombers and high explosive artillery shells to one of the local governments.

Utter hypocrisy.

(15)(2)
John Thornton

Thomas Connelly of course has altered what happened to suit Mr Coyne’s case. He didn’t just burn a £20 note in the vicinity of a Homeless Man , Mr Coyne thought it would be sport to taunt his Victim by first offering him the note then withdrawing it and setting fire to it whilst filming the man’s reaction. That behaviour takes a special kind of little ‘ shit ‘ to carry out. So Mr. Connelly never mind supporting Coyne by subtly dressing up the facts

(2)(0)
Mike Litoris

He deserves the same humiliation he gave to the homeless man.
Thomas you’re nearly as bad as Ms King.

(30)(8)
Brown Circle firm trainee

Oh, so now the worm’s sorry? A bit too late, Ronnie.

(7)(1)
Anonymous

Drunken teenager does something which isn’t illegal and which he regrets instantly, but has the misfortune to be caught on camera doing it, and people want his life ruined?

Yes, it was horribly offensive, but he’s more than learnt his lesson.

(48)(25)
Anonymous

Might be illegal actually- s.5 and 4A Public Order Act 1986.

(12)(7)
Anonymous

Well, ok, but something which the CPS would pursue.

Isn’t there an old law too about burning the Queen’s head , or is that just a myth from The Office?

(8)(0)
Anonymous

The CPS would pursue it if he were a tracksuit clad chav, but they won’t because he’s establishment.

(10)(19)
Anonymous

Burning of the queens head in itself is not an office unless it was an with the intention to depose the crown (Treason Felony Act 1848).

(1)(0)
Anonymous

I’d behead him for treason for defacing an image of Queen Lizzy.

(2)(1)
Diane

Yes a S5 or S4a would be appropriate. No doubt had this been a normal working class person they would have been dealt with under these Laws, however as he is a chinless, spineless, sanctimonious waste of skin I doubt it . In any event a decent person whatever their background or class would not have treated someon like this. He wants to be able to continue with his Law studies well no doubt if that is the case he will come to the public view again as he obviously thinks he can do what he wants let’s hope he never gets to be admitted into The Law Society as no doubt he will bring shame on the profession. Cambridge the world is watching expel him. It’s no use saying well he is only 18 yes we have men and women of that age serving in the front line defending this Country and others , in simple terms , his true character or lack of has been recognised to show him exactly for what he is an oxygen thief .

(1)(0)
Anonymous

How do we know he regrets it?

He hasn’t issued an apology.

His Mummy just issued a statement saying he’s not posh and it’s out of character. Both utter codswallop.

(18)(1)
Anonymous

I do think there’s a lot people with the “my sh•t don’t stink” attitude; I’m willing to bet most people who’ve signed this petition don’t give a damn about the homeless. I acknowledge that there is a difference between not caring and actively insulting homeless people, but the whole reaction does smack of people just wanting to take down a privileged weirdo, but masking their self-serving glee at doing so in a mask of self-righteousness.

(30)(2)
Anonymous

Basically just a rip-off of The Tab’s article yesterday. Legal Cheek is one of the main instigators of witch hunts in the legal sector at the moment – perhaps you should take on board the (‘borrowed’) views that you’re putting across in this article.

(16)(4)
Anonymous

Did they instigate the witch hunt or did they report on a story that had already hit all of the mainstream papers and which involved a law student?

(1)(1)
Anonymous

We say this every single time to LC “don’t shine too much light on the issue, everyone makes mistakes, now you have blacklisted their name” but now you’re telling us?! Pull another one LC!

(11)(1)
Anonymous

I doubt many students from your average background would have £20 to burn and wave in the face of a homeless man.

(20)(3)
Anonymous

Don’t be daft – as a student from a distinctly average background I have a twenty quid note in my wallet right now. We’re not impoverished.

(12)(8)
Anonymous

No, but then neither would most rich people. And even if I did I wouldn’t have the baliffs at my door.

Basically, stop grandstanding by making out £20 is some kind of king’s ransom.

(11)(5)
Anonymous

You must be terrible at problem questions having missed/failed to address the part on actually burning the £20 (as well as actually having it).

2.2

(3)(6)
Anonymous

This sentence…

“You must be terrible at problem questions having missed/failed to address the part on actually burning the £20 (as well as actually having it).”

…is how a moron writes.

(6)(2)
Anonymous

Education is the only thing that’ll fix him. Even if it is a privileged one. Shunning him from university in hopes to relegate him to a “lesser” university is pointless. As if that’ll ground him in someway. It’s also an insult to all other universities who probably don’t want him either.

(6)(5)
Cynic.

This will probably be deleted soon, but someone from this knob’s circle has got at Legal Cheek and made them publish a more “balanced” article, on pain of legal action.

As usual, money talks.

Perhaps an interview with Mr Ryan on how he was made to feel would balance it up even further?

And he was a man. He’s 18. He’s at University. Enough of the extended childhoods already.

(21)(6)
Anonymous

The last bit – ‘He’s 18. He’s at University. Enough of the extended childhoods already.’ is the best response to your own argument.

(6)(5)
I am Spartacus

This will probably be deleted soon, but someone from this knob’s circle has got at Legal Cheek and made them publish a more “balanced” article, on pain of legal action.

(6)(3)
No, I am Spartacus

This will probably be deleted soon, but someone from this knob’s circle has got at Legal Cheek and made them publish a more “balanced” article, on pain of legal action.

(7)(1)
Actually I am Spartacus

This will probably be deleted soon, but someone from this knob’s circle has got at Legal Cheek and made them publish a more “balanced” article, on pain of legal action.

(4)(1)
Anonymous

It’s very naïve to think that this little escapade will affect his opportunities of securing a training contract. Big firms are surprisingly adept at overlooking some of the less palatable aspects of a hopeful’s character. In fact, I know of at least one firm that overlooks the lack of capacity of a trainee on account of their surname.

(6)(0)
Anonymous

I bet if he was an ethnic minority and/or a woman then people wouldn’t be so quick to demand their removal from university

(8)(15)
Anonymous

Trust someone to bring right-wing politics into it…

Oh, sorry, I forgot, Coyne IS far-right.

Hello Coyne, ye knob!!!

(16)(5)
Anonymous

This will probably be deleted soon, but someone from this knob’s circle has got at Legal Cheek and made them publish a more “balanced” article, on pain of legal action.

(4)(2)
Anonymous

He is the one that thinks his background/social status/family wealth is so important, by using it as a means of making fun of a vulnerable man.

(10)(0)
Anonymous

“The tabloids — who are motivated by sales and clicks — can frame this incident how they like.”

Oh, so unlike Legal Cheek, the paragon of virtue, balanced journalism and impartiality.

Pull the other one, Tommy boy!!!

Pass the gas-mask, the stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming.

(22)(0)
Anonymous

We’ve all had a beer before, doesn’t mean we want to burn money in front of a homeless person. Could have walked passed him and ignored him, yet he went to the bother of getting out his money and his lighter. You talk about “kicking a man/teenager while he’s down”, sounds a hell of a lot like what he was doing that night burning money in front of somebody who didn’t have any. He’s obviously an intelligent guy who got into Cambridge to study law, so can we all stop with the rubbish that he’s a ‘naive young man’; fairly certain being nice to other people and treating people with respect is a lesson we all learnt aged 6. Have a day off Mr Connolly.

(18)(1)
Anonymous

Good points raised, there’s just a certain nerve that gets hit with this sort of heartless act.

Sure, the homeless guy is no poorer than he would have been had Mr Chinny-Chin-Chinless just walked on by, but then nor is he- he is still a first year student. No court has passed a sentence on him dictating he’s finished.

Like everything in life, one’s actions have consequence, and you can’t dictate to people how to feel or how to think.

If he applied for a TC at the firm I work for, I would imagine he would have had to virtually dedicate all the free time in his remaining years of study to helping the poor before he’d even get a look in.

Serious rehabilitation required. He’s made a massive rod for his own back. He might be able to fix it- perhaps not.

Ultimately he’s an adult and responsible for his own actions and their consequences.

Recruiters also have to think about the reputations of their firms, and most people would not want to be represented by “that posh guy who got filmed burning the £20 note in front of the homeless person.

His efforts to justify his actions (being drunk/ not as posh as claimed) do him no favours. An unequivocal mea culpa would have been better.

(22)(0)
Anonymous

I guess we also wouldn’t have cared if Cameron had coitus with a pig’s head if he wasn’t a stockbrokers son. But then again what are the odds of seeing a ‘common man’s’ son burning £20’s.

(8)(2)
Anonymous

HE HASN’T EVEN SAID SORRY!

HE JUST GOT HIS MUMMY TO SAY IT WAS OUT OF CHARACTER.

NO REMORSE = NO MERCY.

(24)(1)
Anonymous

Why does he owe the public an apology? The only person he owes an apology to is the person he tried to humiliate.

I’m getting old in that I remember the days when only celebrities were hounded by the Tabloids for doing something legal but morally suspect. Now it’s any of us with a back story that fits the publisher’s agenda. People need to be able to act like a pillock in a public setting without that public setting becoming the national news media.

(1)(8)
Anonymous

Fair enough.

He doesn’t owe the public an apology.

The public don’t owe him any mercy then.

Simples!

(10)(0)
Anonymous

But he is Cambridge educated, it did happen and that’s the way it is. What he did was abhorrent and there’s no place for it. He could do it again

(6)(1)
European DWF slave/trainee

I don’t feel 28g of sympathy for him.

(13)(1)
Jones Day Partner

The guy’s legal career is basically over. Unless he does something sexually outlandish, in which case he should make partner with us in four years.

(10)(3)
Anonymous

I’m sure despite this he’ll still get a training contract before I do.

(2)(2)
Anonymous

Pretty disingenuous. They’re just covering their asses in case Ronald Coyne / Charlotte Proudman / Lord Harley top themselves in the face of this tabloid abuse.

(6)(0)
Anonymous

How hypocritical of LC. Didn’t you guys (Katie) contact A&O after finding out that their trainee/future trainee plagiarised an article he had written?

(23)(1)
MC Associate

Vintage LC to champion the cause of someone they’ve already tarred and feathered for their whole readership to witness.

I wonder how upset the editors would be if someone lit an original idea on fire in front of them.

(14)(0)
Anonymous

Thank you for your responsible editorial angle on this story.

Your previous take on this and the resultant comments were completely at odds with your Lawcare articles and placement – did they threaten to take away sponsorship money or something?

(5)(2)
Salacious B. Crumb

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

(0)(0)
Anonymous

In b4 he kills himself and then everyone who signed the petition/wrote smack about him suddenly distances themselves from the scandal and goes quiet.

(3)(0)
Proelia

Utter hypocrisy.

Recently LC highlighted a young man who had apparently plagiarised an article and LC also contacted Allen and Overy.

Yet here is another young man who has done something wrong and you are calling for restraint after highlighting his behaviour.

Been got at have we?

What a transparent article. Pathetic.

(8)(2)
Anonymous

Who needs to issue an apology when you’ve got friends in high places who can threaten the reporters into publishing “balance” pieces?

(3)(0)
Anonymous

Amusing to see that LC completely ignores the context of Oxbridge students (not necessarily Tory members but often are) have a history of doing abhorrent things such as burning money in front of homeless people. There’s a reason there was so much backlash, and that is because this isn’t the first time it’s happened at either of these two prestigious institutions – wasn’t it BoJo’s year that burned a £50 note in front of a homeless person as members of the Bullingdon Club, which basically grooms young Tories for leadership positions later in life?

(5)(1)
Anonymous

Yeah, I went to Cambridge and I did this all the time #banter

Seriously, take that reverse snobbery chip off your shoulder.

(1)(5)
Anonymous

Cor blimey, how is that persecution complex treating you? I merely highlighted the fact that this has happened before at Oxbridge, cited the most famous case (The Bullingdon Club example) and said that might be why there’s such a backlash against the guy this time it happened. That’s all, so calm it down – I’m well aware most of Oxbridge’s students aren’t like this, but from the sounds of it it happens more at Oxbridge than anywhere else, so…

(5)(1)
Anonymous

So glad I went to Liverpool, where a drunk student was more likely to empty their wallet into the hands of a homeless person then regret it in the morning.

Saw it more than once….

(10)(2)
Tanita

Shouldn’t he have thought (even in his drunkenness) about his “future career in law”… if that’s indeed something really important for him?

Talking from a perspective of an aspiring lawyer: it’s really hard to forget what you want to do for the rest of your life, even in your darkest drunkiest thoughts.

Please correct me if I’m wrong.

(1)(4)
Anonymous

Actually I disagree. When I am at my ‘darkest, drunkest’ points my future career is the last thing on my mind.

(3)(1)
Crazy world of Arthur Brown

Don’t see the problem. Acting like a complete bellend didn’t hinder the careers of Boris or Cameron. Ronald for PM (perhaps not chancellor given his attitude to money though eh)

(0)(1)
Anonymous

So legal cheek, the same writers who belittle and badger people in order to gain revenue, are taking the moral high ground and telling people to back off? Like people have rightly pointed out, Katie harassed an Allen and Overy trainee for plagiarising an article, was your moral compass broken then? Bunch of disgusting tossers you lot are. Just a bunch of salty c*nts who were unable to enter into the legal world, even though they went to such prestigious universities that they insist is the only way you can get into the profession. LOL

(6)(0)
Anonymous

I thought Tom went to Newcastle and did the BPTC at Northumbria?

(0)(0)
Anonymous

Absolutely ridiculous and disappointing Legal Cheek. You are the first to exploit pick out and destroy people’s careers for your own gain. So much hypocracy in this piece. What about the guy who plagiarised the FT article – he could have been brought down by social media alone as you say in this piece – WHY then did LC contact his future firm for comment AND publicise it all? Pathetic

(6)(1)
Ballbag

C*nt. Complete and utter c*nt.

This time I am referring to Tommy and not Ronnie.

(8)(1)
Anonymous

“What if the young aspiring lawyer had attended a less prestigious university? Had he not been educated at a public school? If he was not, until recently, a member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association (CUCA)?”

Then he wouldn’t have done it. Nobody with any perspective on life would do something so base. Nobody mindlessly burns money in front of a homeless person. It isn’t an immature indiscretion. It is being a c*nt, an entire c*nt, and nothing but a c*nt.

I couldn’t do it on threat of violence.

For youthful misdemeanours, nobody deserves to be pillioried. For burning money in front of the least secure people in society, you deserve to have it follow you for the rest of your life.

(7)(2)
Anonymous

I don’t know how people can excuse this behaviour, you have to be quite spiteful to do something like that. Just shows his character and I hope he gets countless rejections from employers. Thats the best way for him to learn from his actions.

(2)(0)
WTF

You lot really are a bunch of smug, sanctimoneous cretins. Yes he is a dick for what he did but he aint Charles Manson. Get some perspective, you should be more angry at a system that allows people to fall through the net and become homeless in the first instance. Just grow up.

(4)(5)
Anonymous

No one is stating he is Charles Manson, and no one is suggesting he gets the same treatment as Charles Manson did. But this behaviour should not be glossed over. He should definitely be punished.

(0)(0)
Anonymous

LC made it about the fact he was Oxbridge and ‘posh’ by referring to him in the title of their original article as “Cambridge law student” and “Coyne, who attended Edinburgh’s Stewart’s Melville College, a top private school commanding fees of up to £21,000 a year”. If he had gone to a state school no one had heard of, and/or was at a non-Russell group university, I doubt LC would’ve described him by either of these characteristics. I I feel no sympathy for this grown man – never have I heard of such abhorrent behaviour (drunk or not, posh or not, white male or not), and LC are a sham for posting a’woe is he’ article 4 days after naming and shaming him in the first place.

(0)(1)
WTF

Nope, don’t know the little Twat from Adam just amazed at some of the utter shite that I read on here from (I assume) members or wannabe members of the profession

(0)(0)

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