18 October 2009


Philip Laing is a nineteen year old technology student at Sheffield Hallam University. Last weekend, he became as drunk as a Tory MP at a late night party conference shindig. His drunkenness was partly down to an organisation called Carnage UK that makes money via arranging boozy student pub crawls.

In the heart of Sheffield, between our beautiful City Hall and the John Lewis department store is a paved area known as Barker's Pool. It is dominated by the city's main war memorial with its huge flagpole. At the base of the monument there is a beautiful bronze casting of four soldiers with their heads permanently hanging down in silent respect for the fallen of two world wars. It is here where every Remembrance Sunday, the glorious dead are remembered with wreaths of poppies, prayers and private memories.

Step forward or should I say, stagger forward Philip Laing in the wee small hours. He lurches over to the memorial and urinates over last year's faded poppy wreaths. Tragically for Master Laing, this reprehensible incident is caught on camera and the resulting photograph travels to pressrooms throughout Britain and beyond.
Surely, Philip Laing will never entirely live the incident down. There is every possibility that he will be chucked out of his university and next Thursday he will appear in the local magistrates court charged with urinating in a public place and outraging public decency. But shouldn't Carnage UK be there too?

In a more sober state this is what Philip said : "I am deeply ashamed of this photograph and sincerely sorry for my behaviour. I didn't realise how much alcohol I had consumed that night and I also hadn't eaten since lunchtime, which worsened the effect. I have no recollection of the events in the photograph, although I recognise this does not excuse my actions."

To some extent I must admit that I feel sorry for Philip Laing. I was a student myself and under the influence of alcohol I did a number of things that I deeply regret - some of which I have never told my family or best friends about to this day. When Philip set out that evening, I doubt that he had any intention of weeing on the war memorial and as he suggests, when he woke up he probably had no recollection whatsoever of his night-time antics that have in their turn aroused thousands of bitter words of condemnation and outrage.

We shouldn't excuse Philip's crime but it ought to be viewed in reasonable proportion. His apology sounded sincere. I would hate to think of him being booted out of university over this matter. In some ways, he is himself a victim of the boozy bacchanalian culture that is prevalent in most university cities. Philip didn't create that culture and he didn't invent Carnage UK so give the lad a break.


  1. Students, and indeed, young people generally, get sucked into this booze culture far too easily. It seems to be generally accepted that Freshers' Week is, to a great extent, about getting 'boozed up' (as my Dad would say).

  2. I tend to agree with you on this, YP. But I think if he really is sincere with his apology, perhaps he could volunteer with an aged veterans organization or something.
    As for me, I imbibed a bit in my younger days (ahem), but I can't fathom doing what he did. I respect these things too much.

  3. Alcohol again, I sometimes wish it had never been discovered! I agree, we shouldn't be heavy handed here, he has apologised, profusely it seems. What I want to know is why do we need organisations such as Carnage UK? I don't know what they do but they certainly haven't done very well by Philip.

  4. Sheffield and far too many cities in the UK have given themselves over to the student pound.

    How pathetic that a company has to be hired to organise pub crawls for students?

    What's the world coming to?

  5. ". . . in the wee small hours." Ho, ho!

    Seriously, the student does seem genuinely repentant and shouldn't be chucked out of university for this. No one died, no violence or robbery was involved. Let's keep it in perspective.

  6. Yes, I hate the culture of booze too - but on this occasion, I agree, keep it in perspective. I don't think he was doing it disrespectfully - he was just too drunk to know what he was doing.

  7. Anonymous10:27 pm

    Laing will never get a degree, a job, a partner, a life... he will suffer for his acts for the rest of life. Evything he tries to do will result in the failure of all his doings. His life is not worth living. He will be forever be haunted for urinating on the memorial and memories of those that died for their country. He should end his life and forget that he was born to do such a disgusting act! God help his soul. God help us all if Philip Laing is to remain alive.

  8. Anonymous6:38 pm

    Philip Laing, Rotherhead Drive (sorry, number unknown), Macclesfield

    07964 098345
    (01625) 439722

    MSN: phillaing12345@hotmail.co.uk

    His mother is called Kathleen and is an optician working at Aarons Opticians of Stockport, 0161-480 4307. 46 St. Petersgate Stockport Cheshire SK1 1HL.

    E-mail address: kath.laing@btinternet.com

    These details were found online, so it's all public domain.


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