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Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 15:14 GMT
Drinks club 'ritual' wrecks pub
A country pub was wrecked in what is claimed to be a ritual held by a secret Oxford University drinking club.

A group of students smashed 17 bottles of wine, every piece of crockery and a window at the 15th Century White Hart pub in Fyfield, near Oxford.

Landlord Ian Rogers said the ringleader claimed to be from the Bullingdon Club, a century-old hellraisers' club.

Four of the group were arrested and fined 80. They have been confirmed as Oxford University undergraduates.

They had not come here to eat, they had come to trash the place
Nicola Rees, waitress
Mr Rogers, 42, said of the incident: "It was very peculiar. They were not rude or violent to my staff.

"Even when I pulled them off each other when they were fighting and chucking bottles at the walls, they would say 'Sorry old chap, just a bit of high spirits'."

Waitress Nicola Rees, 23, said: "They were acting out some kind of ritual. It was not through excess drinking, it was planned.

"They were not really drunk or throwing up. They had not come here to eat, they had come to trash the place.

University inquiry

"Apparently it's been going on for years. It's some kind of tradition."

Four of the group were arrested and spent the night in the cells at nearby Abingdon police station before being issued with fixed penalty notices on release on Thursday.

A spokesman for the University of Oxford said: "A group of Oxford University students were arrested and charged with criminal damage.

"The matter is currently being investigated by the University Proctors."

Past members of the Bullingdon Club - dubbed the "Bollinger Club" in Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall - include Lord Bath and diarist Alan Clark.

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