A UNIVERSITY champagne society has been investigated after concerns were raised about the “potentially life-threatening” combination of drunken students running into a lake at their summer ball.

The event at Hardwick Hall, near Sedgefield, was organised by Durham University’s Champagne Society.

Police officers who were at the event said they had seen naked students running in to the lake, couples openly having sex, a number of unconscious women and people taking cocaine.

Students were seen drinking straight from champagne bottles and later vomited on police officers and on coaches taking them back to Durham.

Following the event, which was discussed by Durham Student Union (DSU) at a meeting in October, the society has been put on probation until after Christmas.

The issue was investigated after concerns were raised by the Durham City Partnership, which was set up following the deaths of three students in the River Wear in 2014 and 2015.

Sam Dale, deputy academic registrar for Durham University and chair of the Durham City Partnership, said: “We had concerns about student safety at the Champagne Society summer ball and we shared these with the Students’ Union.

“We are pleased that they have since taken appropriate action.”

A letter from Mr Dale to the university’s pro-vice chancellor Professor Graham Towl outlined a number of incidents, including

• Drunken students, some of whom were naked, entering the lake and being forcefully asked to come out by police.

• A number of students incapacitated or unconscious at the end of the event because of alcohol

• Couple openly having sex

• Two students taken to hospital

• Volunteers carrying unconscious students upstairs in a blanket

• Students vomiting on police officers and on coaches returning them to Durham

• Bottles were smashed, causing injuries to feet.

• Evidence of cocaine use

He said: “The toxic combination of excessive alcohol and students entering the water at Hardwick Park caused the partnership particular concern in light of previous events.”

Durham Students’ Union chief executive investigated the issue and its assembly agreed to place the society on probation and work with them to develop an action plan for the year ahead.

According to the report they considered last month, a small number of police had attended to monitor the event but had to call for back up from off-duty officers due to the severity and volume of incidents.

Police said that as well as welcome drinks, students appeared to have been provided with two bottles of champagne each to drink with their meals and in addition the hotel took £45,000 behind the bar during the evening.

The event took place on June 5 this year with tickets selling for £99 per head.

It was featured in Tatler, with the society magazine saying: "Students rocked up to Hardwick Hall to chat, dance and most importantly drink rivers of fizz."

Around 1,300 people attended the event, which also included a funfair and raffle – the star prize being a 27 litre bottle of Champagne Drappier Brut Primat, the second largest bottle in the world.

Videos from the night show students pouring champagne into each other's mouths and spraying it across the dancefloor.

The society executive said that there had been more champagne than expected as suppliers Laurent Perrier had accidentally delivered magnums (holding 1.5litres) instead of single bottles.

In response to the claims, the society said: “No society has ever thrown a ball as big, grand and expensive as the summer ball that was held on the June 5.

“Many students felt that this event was the best event that they had been to in the entirety of their time in Durham.

“However, due to the scale of the event amongst other factors, we do recognise that there were problems at the ball.

“As a new executive committee we are fully committed to working in close alliance with both the police and the DSU in order to create events which are fundamentally safe for the student body.”

The society was founded in 2011 in order to introduce students to the culture of champagne tasting.

Oliver Sherratt, chairman of Durham City Safety Group, said: “Our members work together with the aim of reducing instances of people entering the river in Durham City. We have introduced a range of measures along the waterside to improve public safety and strive to educate people on the risks wherever possible.

“We would always urge people to take care around open water, to take responsibility for their personal safety and if drinking alcohol, to do so in a safe and sensible way.”

Hardwick Hall said it totally refuted the claims.

A spokesperson for the hotel said: “Staff at the hotel saw absolutely no evidence of any of the alleged activities and it wasn’t until much later after the event that we were informed that two people had entered the lake.

“There were more than 1000 people at this event and the majority of them were well behaved and had an enjoyable, incident free evening

“The insinuation that this event was out of control is, as far as the hotel is concerned, a complete fabrication.

“Hardwick Hall hosts hundreds of large scale events – including many for Durham University – and these are highly successful and pass without incident.”