burn money
A man burns a bank note (Getty file photo) Getty

A Cambridge University student has been expelled from the institution's Conservative Association for trying to burn a £20 ($25) note in front of a homeless man.

Ronald Coyne, a law student at the prestigious university, was thrown out of the organisation after footage of the incident appeared on social media and later published on a student-run publication.

Images of the incident show Coyne dressed in white tie and tails approach the homeless man and attempt to burn the money.

Burning money in front of the homeless is said to be an initiation ritual for the exclusive Oxford University Bullingdon Club for the super-wealthy, and counts former Prime Minister David Cameron, ex-chancellor George Osborne and current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson among its alumni.

Coyne, of Pembroke College, was filmed carrying out the act on 2 February after a formal dinner for the college.

Joe Mathieson, chairman of Conservative Association (CUCA), condemned Coyne's "private behaviour".

He told The Tab: "We were informed by people who had seen the video on Snapchat that [Coyne] had behaved like this, and took immediate action to remove him.

"His membership was revoked immediately after the news came to the committee's attention. This was on the basis that there is absolutely no place for people who behave like this in our association.

"That said, he was not acting in the capacity of a CUCA member, nor was he attending, or had attended, a CUCA event.

"For the record, CUCA has no initiations, does not condone behaviour of this kind in the slightest, and this was entirely independent of CUCA. We are as appalled as every other right thinking member of the university."

Coyne's mother, Sandra McLaughlin, also condemned the behaviour.

She told the Times: "I don't really know why he's done something so thoughtless and cruel.

"He did two years of volunteering at Stockbridge shelter homeless shop in Edinburgh when he was still at school. It's very surprising. We're just a normal family. We're not toffs, he's not a toff."

George Clarke, the founder of Embrace Cambridge, a charity that works with homeless people, said there was a "disturbing precedent for intoxicated Cambridge students to abuse 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".