AUSTRALIAN boat race protester Trenton Oldfield’s fight against a public nuisance charge has been boosted after a British judge ruled out key prosecution evidence.
Oldfield, a 36-year-old anti-elitism campaigner, appeared on the opening day of his trial in London after disrupting the annual rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge universities by swimming out in front of the boats on the Thames in April.
Judge Anne Molyneux said on Monday that video footage downloaded from YouTube showing the reaction from the public when Oldfield came ashore would not be shown to the jury at Isleworth Crown Court.
She also said that statements from police relaying comments from members of the public were also not to be passed on to the jury.
Judge Molyneux said such evidence could not be verified and was prejudicial.
Her ruling came after prosecution lawyer Louis Mably said the video had shown Oldfield caused a public nuisance by holding up the race for 25 minutes.
The video showed a soaking Oldfield being brought ashore by police at Chiswick Pier with a big smile on his face as he walked past gathered spectators.
There were cries of “shame” and he was called a “tosser” and a “wanker” along with a healthy amount of smiling and laughter from the crowd.
Oldfield’s lawyer Benjamin Newton said that no public nuisance had been caused by the London-based Australian’s “peaceful disobedience”.
“Not a single complaint has been made to the police by the public … no witnesses will be called from the public,” he said.
Oldfield cut a relaxed figure in court.
He has been handed unconditional bail during the trial after having strict conditions placed on him during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympics earlier this year.
The trial is expected to last between three and four days on London’s western fringe.
The jury is set to be sworn in shortly and opening arguments to begin later on Monday. – AAP