Trenton Oldfield deportation: Boat Race protester allowed to stay in UK

Activist wins 'unprecedented' deportation case as judge overturns Theresa May's decision

A judge said today that he intended to overturn Theresa May's decision to deny a visa to the Australian boat race protester Trenton Oldfield, who was facing deportation and separation from his British wife and daughter because his presence in the country was 'not conducive to the public good'.

On an emotional day in court, Mr Oldfield's supporters wept and hugged him after judge Kevin Moore indicated that he would allow the appeal. "There is no doubt as to your character and commitment and the value you are to UK society generally," the judge said. "It would be my intention to allow your appeal."

Outside the North London Immigration and Asylum Chamber, Mr Oldfield said he was “relieved” by the decision. His lawyer, Stephanie Harrison, said that “any independent judge upholding the law was bound to recognise that this wasn't justified. And she added that the decision exposed failings in the Secretary of State's decision-making process in the case. ”It shows that she only focused on one aspect of her responsibility,“ she said. ”She didn't give the case the proper care and attention that it deserved.“

Mr Oldfield, 37, served six weeks of a six month sentence for his infamous disruption of the Oxford-Cambridge boat race last year. He was appealing against the Home Office’s decision, taken in June, to deny him a spousal visa that would mean he could stay in the country. He has lived in the UK since 2001.

The judge did not give his full reasons for the decision, indicating that they would follow in a few weeks time. But earlier, Mr Oldfield had broken down in tears as he told the court that he believed his wife would face racism if the family were forced to move to his native Australia.

With his five-month old baby daughter and his wife Deepa Naik in the back of the courtroom, and dozens of protesters outside, Oldfield described the circumstances leading up to his initial protest. He and his wife had recently returned to the UK after spending seven months in Canada caring for Deepa’s father, who was dying of cancer.

“I think I was vulnerable in terms of realizing how short life can be,” Mr Oldfield said. “I think I was very emotional.” Describing his attitude to the protest now, he added: “I have no willingness to be involved in similar activity again.”

And he told the judge that if he were allowed to stay “I give you my word we won't be here [in a tribunal] again.”

He said that his wife, who is of Indian descent, had never been to Australia and that they could not move there as a family. “Australia is a particularly racist country,” he said, and added that there had been attacks on Indians in Australia in the past.

“Our home is here,” he added. “Australia is on the other side of the world.”

Mr Oldfield’s lawyers argued that the protest “was not of sufficient gravity or seriousness to justify the decision taken” to deport him. And they said that taking into account the impact on his British wife and daughter’s right to family life, the decision to deny him the visa would be “disproportionate”. Ms Harrison told the judge, Kevin Moore, that he had “unfettered discretion” to overturn the decision to deny Mr Oldfield a visa. “His presence is neither undesirable nor contrary to the public good,” she said.

Activists from the pressure group Defend The Right To Protest waiting outside called the Home Office decision “farcical”. “His case is high profile,” said Hannah Dee, one of the protesters. “They’ve decided to make an example of him.” Ms Naik agreed, and described the support as “amazing”. “It makes me tear up,” she said. 

Stephanie Harrison had previously told The Independent that in her legal experience his case was unprecedented. “In 20 years, I’ve never seen a case of someone with a six-month conviction for a public order offence being tested over the ‘public good’.”

Mr Oldfield has submitted a file of over 100 letters testifying to the positive impact of his community work. One of the authors, Oxford geography professor Danny Dorling, was present as a witness for Mr Oldfield today. “It’s odd,” he said outside the courtroom. “I can’t think of a parallel. It makes it look like we have a real hang-up about stepping slightly out of line.”

The court also heard Jeremy Till, the head of Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design, speaking in Mr Oldfield's favour. “He's not going to be a public nuisance, I don't think there's any evidence he'd do it again,” said Professor Till, who coxed the Cambridge lightweight rowing team as a student. “And I think there's a lot of good in what he does.”

After the hearing had concluded, Mr Oldfield broke off from speaking to reporters saying that he had to take care of his baby daughter. But before striding down the road surrounded by supporters, he said that he remained “anxious about everyone else going through the same process” of deportation and that he wanted to bring more attention to what he called the “criminalisation” of protest. 

A previous suggestion that the judge ruled in favour of Trenton Oldfield due to racism in Australia may have been misleading. We are happy to clarify that the judge cited Mr Oldfield's value to UK society in making his decision, as stated in this piece.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Teeth should be brushed twice a day to prevent tooth decay
Bryan Cranston as Walter White, in the acclaimed series 'Breaking Bad'
footballChelsea 6 Maribor 0: Blues warm up for Premier League showdown with stroll in Champions League - but Mourinho is short of strikers
Those who were encouraged to walk in a happy manner remembered less negative words
Arts and Entertainment
Princess Olga in 'You Can't Get the Staff'
tvReview: The anachronistic aristocrats, it seemed, were just happy to have some attention
Renee Zellweger as Bridget Jones
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London