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