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Assault costs playwright honorary degree

May 2, 2009 at 6:14 AM

STIRLING, Scotland, May 2 (UPI) -- A Scottish playwright's past has caught up with him, forcing him to turn down an honorary degree from Stirling University because of an undergraduate assault.

Gregory Burke, 41, author of "Black Watch" about Scottish soldiers in Iraq and the new play "Hoors," was banned from Stirling after he beat up Mark Campbell in the early 1980s, The Scotsman reported. He was allowed on campus only for classes and visits to the library and dropped out in his second year.

Christine Hallet, the university principal, apologized to Campbell in a letter for any distress the news of the honorary degree had caused him and his family.

"Mr Burke has advised the university that he wishes to decline the offer of award of honorary degree," she said. "He explains that he does not wish to embarrass anyone at the university or to make any member of the alumni feel uncomfortable."

"Black Watch" premiered at the 2006 Edinburgh Festival and has been shown in cities around the world. "Hoors" opened in Edinburgh this weekend.

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