Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 14:17 UK

No honour for Black Watch writer

Gregory Burke
Gregory Burke wrote the award-winning Black Watch play

Playwright Gregory Burke has turned down an honorary degree from his old university after a row over an attack he carried out as a student.

The award-winning writer of Black Watch said he decided to refuse the offer from Stirling University to prevent any embarrassment to the establishment.

He was banned from the campus about 20 years ago after violently assaulting a 17-year-old student.

The victim's family said they had been "disgusted" by the award.

Dunfermline-born Mr Burke studied politics at Stirling University, but after the attack was banned from campus and was only allowed to attend lectures and visit the library. He eventually dropped out.

He was due to receive his honorary degree in November.

But the principal of the university, Christine Hallett, has now written to his victim Mark Campbell to explain the change in position.

He has never to this day shown any remorse
Michael Campbell
Victim's brother

The letter states: "Whilst the university was considering the position (including seeking legal advice in the absence of any explicit power in its instruments of governance to rescind the award of an honorary degree), Mr Burke has advised the university that he wishes to decline the offer of award of honorary degree.

"He explains that he does not wish to embarrass anyone at the university or to make any member of the alumni feel uncomfortable.

"May I repeat my apology for the deep distress which has been caused to you, your family and others by this episode."

Mr Campbell's brother, Michael, said: "We as a family, and Mark in particular, were disgusted that the university made the offer of this degree to Gregory Burke.

"We understand that Mr Burke has remade his life as a playwright, but unfortunately Mr Burke has continued for the last number of years to glory in this event and to talk about it as if it's a badge of honour.

"He has never to this day shown any remorse."

Meanwhile, it has been announced that former home secretary and current Celtic chairman John Reid will be given an honorary degree from Stirling University.

He will receive the award in June in recognition of his outstanding contribution to public affairs.

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