Academics Take On Trenton’s Troubles

A petition, signed by Cambridge students and academics has called upon the Home Office to halt the deportation of Boat Race protester, Trenton Oldfield


UPDATE 14:07

Trenton has won his appeal against deportation, he’s not back off to Oz.

“There is no doubt as to your character and commitment and the value you are to UK society generally,” the judge said.

“It would appear to me from the evidence and the submissions that have been made on your behalf that it would be my intention to allow your appeal.”

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Two hundred and sixty five members of Cambridge University have signed a petition demanding that the deportation of Boat Race protester and general cheeky trouble maker, Trenton Oldfield, be halted.

Oldfield was dragged from the river after disrupting the 2012 Boat Race by jumping in the way of the boats and arrested for causing a public nuisance. Also handed down a six month jail sentence for his antics, he is appealing the deportation order today.

Oldfield: A "public nuisance"

Oldfield: A ‘public nuisance’

The Home Office decided that Oldfield’s deportation was in everyone’s interest, as his continued presence in the country was “not to the conducive good“.

Oldfield, an Australian who has lived in the UK for ten years, is claiming that he has the right to stay in the country, with his wife and young child, under article eight of the Human Rights Act, which protects the right to family life.

Oldfield on his way to court following charges

Oldfield on his way to court after being charged

Made public on donsspeakout!, a site dedicated to ‘Cambridge dons and friends speaking out against the attacks on British universities’, the petition calls on Home Secretary Teresa May to halt the deportation order. The 265 signatures come from students as well as academics and appear to all be genuine.

The Boat Race is a game; its disruption should not result in any individual’s deportation. Certainly its disruption should not be cause to separate an individual from his family, which includes a recently-born child.

‘We note that the race was completed successfully and no one was harmed by Mr Oldfield’s actions. We do not wish this draconian penalty to be applied in the name of an event representing our institutions.’

The site was recently used as a platform by academics to challenge the University on its inaction over the revelations that police were spying on student activists.

Dr Priyamvada Gopal, a fellow of Churchill College and one of the organisers of the petition, told The Tab that she believed it was in students’ interests to support Mr Oldfield.

‘We see now that the most mild forms of civil disobedience and protest are being penalised in a heavy handed fashion – people suspended from their courses, arrested, jailed. We are quite close to a situation of state repression of dissent.

This takes place in the wider context of a crackdown on protest by our current regime.’

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Dr Gopal: ‘Supporting Trenton is in the students’ interest’

At the time of going to press Mr Oldfield, probably busy in court, had not responded to requests for comment but Dr Gopal informed The Tab that he had expressed gratitude for the support.

Though it’s unclear if the petition speaks for the wider student body, some students were more cynical. Failed Comedian, Nick Harris, when asked to comment on the issues, declined, telling The Tab: ‘Trenton Oldfield? More like Twaton Twatfield.’

Talking to the Guardian, Oldfield’s wife, Deepa Naik, said that there was no irony in students supporting the appeal.

‘Trenton was protesting a social and political structure rather than everyone who actually attends or teaches at Cambridge,’

However it would seem he’s also not a fan of the students either, using his company’s Facebook page to target ‘colonialist’ students at last year’s Caesarean Sunday. Posting photos of students partying in Native American headdresses on the page, he called on followers to ‘try to identify any of the people’ photographed, presumably to shame them.