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Architecture activist facing jail for boat race stunt

Architecture activist and This Is Not A Gateway co-founder Trenton Oldfield has been convicted of committing a public nuisance which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment

Oldfield’s sentence will be announced next Friday (19 October) and the judge has suggested all options are open including a custodial sentence.

The 36-year-old halted the world-famous race eight minutes after it started by swimming close to the boats in the river in a protest stunt.

He was found guilty of public nuisance on 26 September at Isleworth Crown Court in London.

‘Oldfield has accepted that he disrupted the boat race,’ said judge Anne Molyneux. ‘The court will be considering if a custodial sentence is necessary.’

Following the verdict Oldfield said: ‘As inequalities increase in Britain and across much of the world, so does the criminalisation of protest; my solidarity is with everyone everywhere working towards more equitable societies.’

Oldfield was initially charged under section five of the public order act however the accusation was later amended to public nuisance.

In a statement, This Is Not A Gateway claimed Hansard reports revealed government ministers asked the police commissioner to increase the charge so that a custodial sentence could be achieved.

It said: ‘On the morning of his first court appearance (23 April) Trenton’s charge was significantly increased via the ancient common law charge of “public nuisance”under which conviction can result in life in prison.’

Oldfield actions were planned to bring attention to inequalities in British society and the boat race was targeted as a symbol of elitism, the statement said.

The architectural publishing platform drew a comparison with pop band Pussy Riot’s recent imprisonment for protesting against Vladimir Putin in Russia.

The statement said: ‘The very same lack of tolerance towards dissent seemsto be happening in Britain as Trenton waits for sentencing.’

This Is Not A Gateway – which published the third volume of its Critical Cities anthology this week – has encouraged supporters to gather outside Isleworth Crown Court on 19 October.

 

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