Boat Race protester bemoans 'vindictive' expulsion from UK
Trenton Oldfield, Australian protester who swam in front of last year's race, 'shocked' at visa ruling
TRENTON OLDFIELD, the Australian activist who grabbed 15 minutes of infamy by swimming into the path of the 2012 Boat Race, has been ordered to leave the country after serving two months of a six-month jail sentence.
The 37-year-old, who forced a re-start of the 158th Boat Race, later claimed his protest was aimed at government cuts and the elitism of British society. Several commentators pointed out this was an odd stance given he had been privately-educated in Sydney.
Though he was stunningly successful in gaining maximum publicity for his stunt, Oldfield was jailed last October after judge Anne Molyneux ridiculed his protest. "You did nothing to address inequality by giving yourself the right to spoil the enjoyment of others," she told him. "In doing so, you acted without regard for equality and contrary to the meaning of it."
He served two months of his sentence in Wormwood Scrubs, a sentence that according to The Guardian "many thought was severe". Those who didn't, however, won't be too upset to learn that Oldfield, who has lived in the UK for more than 10 years, has been told by the Home Office that they " do not believe his presence in this country is conducive to the public good".
Describing the Home Office's decision as an "overreaction", Oldfield said: "No one was expecting this. I have a tier one visa, as a highly skilled migrant, and I was sentenced to less than a year. The lawyer said I had nothing to worry about because it was less than a year. It feels to me that this is a very vindictive decision."
The Guardian says that Oldfield has "rejected the notion" that he might return home to Australia, claiming that his wife Deepa has never been to his homeland. "We clearly have a life together here," he told the paper. "We work together, we publish books, we run two not-for-profit organisations. Every part of our lives is entangled together here. We are about to have a family."
During his trial, Oldfield argued that his protest was successful in its aim of raising awareness of elitism. "People tell me that on the day of the race, 500,000 people looked up the word 'elitism' on Google," he said. "It sparked a debate."
The Home Office's decision also appears to have sparked a debate. While the majority of the comments posted on the Guardian website were supportive of the Australian, those left on Oldfield's blog were less so. "At last the UK govt acts appropriately!" wrote one reader. "Go screw up a national sporting event for millions somewhere else Trenton."