AFTER serving seven weeks in a British prison for his public protest against elitism and inequality, Australian Trenton Oldfield says without hesitation that he would do it all again.
The former Sydneysider was jailed for six months in October after a jury found him guilty of causing a public nuisance by disrupting the annual Oxford-Cambridge rowing race on London’s River Thames in April.
Subject to parole conditions and ordered to wear an electronic tracking device, Oldfield has been released from custody and spoke with BBC Radio this week.
Asked if he would repeat his protest, which a sentencing judge described as “dangerous”, Oldfield replied an unwavering “yes”.
“(I have) not a single regret,” he added.
Oldfield swam into the path of the rowing crews on April 7, disrupting the historic annual race to the annoyance of participants, organisers and thousands of spectators.
A global audience of millions is believed to have been watching televised coverage of the race, which had been neck-and-neck when it was interrupted and restarted after a 25-minute break.
“I don’t know if I owe them an apology, but I have a lot of sympathy for their training,” Oldfield said of the rowers he disrupted.
The 36-year-old London-based activist said he selected the boat race because it would have “limited impact” on working people.
“It was on a very, very small group of people but in a very profound and symbolic way,” Oldfield said.
The anti-elitism display aimed to serve as a broad objection to British government policy which Oldfield said has prevented stability for people who “trained hard to build a life”.
Oldfield said his beliefs prevented him from appealing the jail sentence.
“First of all I didn’t believe in the charge that was given to me. I had no choice, I had to go through the process and an appeal would be suggesting that I still believed in the system and the system could address it,” he said.
“In a way you kind of take your hat and you ask people for their forgiveness or something, I wasn’t prepared to do that.” – AAP