CORRECTED: Boat Race protester allowed to stay in Britain

9th December 2013, Comments 0 comments

An Australian activist who risked deportation for disrupting the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race said on Monday he was delighted after an immigration judge ruled that he can stay in Britain.

Trenton Oldfield, 37, based his appeal against deportation partly on a claim that his British wife, who is of Indian descent, and his baby daughter would face racism in Australia.

Oldfield feared he would be expelled because he had his application for a spousal visa refused after serving six months in prison for the stunt.

The Home Office, or interior ministry, deemed his presence in Britain as "undesirable" after he dived into London's River Thames and disrupted the race in April 2012.

Oldfield, who was privately educated, said he had launched the stunt in protest at "entrenched elitism" in Britain.

He took his case to the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in London and judge Kevin Moore decided on Monday to allow his appeal.

Oldfield said afterwards he was "delighted to be able to get back to my work and spend time with my family".

In his application, Oldfield claimed that Australia was a racist country and his wife Deepa Naik and their five-month-old daughter would face discrimination if they were forced to move back with him.

"Australia to Deepa... is a particularly racist country," he said.

"There are particularly racist attacks on people of Indian descent."

Oldfield said that while most of it was "water cooler" or unintentional racism, some Indians in Australia had been burned and physically assaulted.

"I don't think I could put either Deepa or my child through that," he said.

Oldfield also told the tribunal his inspiration for the Boat Race stunt came while he was looking after his wife's father, who was dying from cancer.

"I think I was vulnerable in terms of realising how short life can be," an emotional Oldfield said, in between sobs.

The judge agreed with his lawyer Stephanie Harrison, who argued that Oldfield's good work in the community outweighed the inconvenience caused by his protest, which he has vowed never to repeat.

Harrison said the stunt only caused minimal disruption to the race, which was able to get under way again within 25 minutes.

"He has been trying... to make a difference to people's lives who are on the rough end of society," she said.

"He should not be doubly punished."


© 2013 AFP

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