Trenton Oldfield, the Australian who was fished out of the Thames last year when disrupting the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, is now out of prison and has written a piece for tomorrow’s Spectator about his experiences. In it he reveals that the Metropolitan Police have offered to help him protest at the 159th Boat Race taking place this weekend. This is what he has to say:

‘Throughout the week, via lawyers, I have received some elegantly crafted emails from Scotland Yard’s Liaison Gateway Team (‘a small unit of officers dedicated to facilitating peaceful protest’). They ask how they can help me organise a protest at the university boat race this year. Their ‘total policing’ sometimes includes pre-emptive arrests. To add to this bizarreness, two extremely tall policemen darkened my kitchen to hand-deliver a similarly helpful letter in which they ‘strongly recommend you work with us to ensure your protest is a success’. They didn’t elaborate, but I can only assume they’re putting me in touch with the diving squad. Who says there’s never a policeman around when you need one?’

I’ve seen the letter he was sent from the Met. It introduces ‘the newly formed Police Liaison Gateway Team’ which is ‘very keen to engage with people who may be intending to protest at this year’s University Boat Race’ and want to offer help finding ‘appropriate sites, times etc whereby protesters can exercise their lawful rights, without causing disruption or danger.’

Until last year, I had no idea that the Boat Race was contentious. Now, the Old Bill are trying to organise protests – and actively seeking likely participants. I have no idea how successful they’ve been. I suspect we’ll find out on Sunday.

Rod Liddle had plenty to say about Olfield’s original protest. Oldfield  does too (he
has written a book
about it, The Queen vs Trenton Oldfield, but responds to Rod directly in his diary:

‘When I was arrested, Rod Liddle pointed his finger to the course I studied at the LSE — contemporary urbanism — and suggested that my fellow students ought to be arrested ‘as a sensible preventative measure’. A little harsh, in my opinion, but he is right to criticise what I call the ‘urban industry’, including places like the LSE. They promise so much in terms of improving people’s increasingly urbanised lives and eradicating poverty. And yet they disappoint and contradict. Take, for example, the decision of UCL to demolish a housing estate in order to build a new campus in east London — for the study of social inequality, no doubt!’

I suspect CoffeeHousers will have strong views on the suitability of Oldfield’s protest. So does our contributing editor Douglas Murray, and we have just recorded a debate between the two of them for our View from 22 Podcast, now in its third week of six-figure downloads. I’ll post the link here tomorrow.

As for the magazine: it’s going to press now and will be on the streets tomorrow but our iPad subscribers will have it by 4am tomorrow morning. For a four-week FREE trial, on iPad and iPhone, click here.

Listen to Trenton Oldfield discussing his time in prison on this week’s View from 22 podcast (14:40)


Tags: Boat Race, Cambridge University, Oxford University, Protest, Spectator, Trenton Oldfield, UK politics