UPDATE: Fiery Debate: Oxford Union Revellers Burn Books

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The President of the Oxford Union has admitted that books were burnt at the handover dinner and has launched an investigation.

The Oxford Union has launched an investigation into the burning of books after the President admitted that the allegations were true.

The Committee had previously maintained that it was just printed pages that were burnt at the presidential handover dinner.

But in a statement Ashvir Sangha, President of the Oxford Union, admitted that at least one book was burnt.

Sangha wrote: “The Union is currently looking into the events that occurred in the early hours of Sunday 13th March. It appears that a book was removed from the President’s Office, where it had been secured pending review by the Library, and taken to the gardens.

“The individual then proceeded to set alight this particular book, before it was then extinguished by the Ex-President of Hertford College [Laura Winwood].”

Sangha also maintained that the person who burnt the book was just an ordinary member of the Union, and not a member of the committee.

The disciplinary committee could fine, suspend or even expel the member if he’s found guilty of burning the book.

It’s still unclear what book was actually burnt, but speculation is mounting that is was in fact a book on Scientology, as previously alleged.

Despite the admission, Sangha tried to downplay the rest of the night’s debauchery, claiming that any broken glass was “caused through accidental damage and not through malicious activity“, and stressing that the only reported instance of any equipment broken on the night was a chair that had lost a wheel, which has “since been repaired.”


Books were burnt and pictures smashed during a night of drunken debauchery at the  Oxford Union this week.

While the Cambridge Union played host to Julian Assange, their Oxford equivalents were reportedly busy getting plastered and smashing up their union.

The presidential handover dinner held last Saturday at the prestigious Oxford Union left a trail of destruction in its wake.

According to student newspaper The Cherwell, guests allegedly smashed glasses, danced on tables, burnt books and even set off fireworks.

Photos of the old committees were also reportedly smashed and the photocopier in the general office is said to have been broken.

The dinner marked the end of James Langman’s tenure as president and the beginning of Ashvir Sangha’s.

One attendee of the party, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Cherwell guests got “very drunk”, but added that only: “one or two were involved in burning books.”

“We didn’t know what books they were, but they were definitely burning pages of them.”

Three sources have since alleged that a copy of the Union Rulebook was among the books to go up in flames.

President-elect Izzy Westbury, admitted taking part in the bonfire but said that they were just burning pages printed from the internet. Westbury told The Cherwell, “I definitely did not burn any books.

“Early in the evening, myself, along with an ex-Librarian (who has now left Oxford), jokingly burnt a print-out page of the Union rules…that was all.”

Westbury, right, waves a copy of the rules prior to setting it ablaze

Sources have also alleged that several books on Scientology were burnt during the evening’s revelry. The books were donated to the Union by the late David Gaiman, publicity Director for L. Ron Hubbard’s Church of Scientology.

Westbury denies these books were burnt during the evening, and other Union Officers have also been quick to deny the allegations, not wanting to deter celebrity followers of the religion from coming to the Union.

Bizarrely guests also reported hearing hymns sung in Latin as the books were burnt.

Police were eventually called to the Union at 11pm after guests reportedly set off fireworks.

The only evidence of the night’s antics was a pile of ash from the night’s celebrations, which appeared the following morning on a wooden bench by the Union.

Founded in 1823, 8 years younger than its Cambridge equivalent, the Oxford Union has played host to figures such as Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan and Salman Rushdie, whose book The Satanic Verses was publicly burnt in Bolton and Bradford in 1988.

Jonathan Lindsell, a third year Historian at Trinity College, Oxford, was unimpressed by the night’s events, telling The Tab: “they were all douches.”

Both outgoing president Langman and the incoming Sangha were unavailable for comment. It is not known what the cost of the damage done to the Union is.

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