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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 20:18 GMT 21:18 UK
Drink-ban union told 'get a grip'
Boris Johnson
Mr Johnson made the comments to the campus newspaper Exepose
Conservative MP Boris Johnson said a university union which banned drink-related ceremonies after a student died should "get a grip".

Exeter University's Athletic Union (AU) brought the ban after undergraduate Gavin Britton died after a night drinking with the golf society members.

The Business and Economics student from Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire, was found in the city centre on 27 November 2006.

The outspoken MP made the comments to the campus newspaper, Exepose.

"I am very much against panic bans as a result of some tragic accident. I think the Athletic Union should get a grip," said the shadow education minister.

[Mr Johnson] should be supporting the positive outcomes of this tragic incident
Union president Richard Soddy

Any student found to have breached the new code of conduct will go before an AU disciplinary board and could receive punishments including a 500 fine.

The exact cause of Mr Britton's death is unknown and a file is being examined by a coroner. No date for an inquest has yet been arranged.

"If you want a golden example of where this goes wrong it's the post-Dunblane ban on handguns, which has done absolutely nothing in this country to diminish the number of handguns, which are absolutely rife in London," said Mr Johnson to the paper.

"It's also put us in a ludicrous position where for the London 2012 Olympic Games the British shooting team has to travel abroad to practice for an event they are hosting in their own country."

Union president Richard Soddy said Mr Johnson "should be supporting the positive outcomes of this tragic incident and endorsing the student policies that will bring about an improved and safer experience for those in higher education".

As chairman of the British Universities Sports Association, Mr Soddy said he wanted student unions around the country to introduce the same code of conduct that was introduced in Exeter.

Mr Johnson has been criticised for labelling Portsmouth as a city full of drugs and obesity, and for criticising Liverpool's grief over Ken Bigley, the UK hostage who was killed in Iraq.

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