Boat Race swim 'was cuts protest'
A protester who disrupted this year's Boat Race by swimming into the path of the crews was highlighting London's inequality and Government cuts, he says.
In front of millions of television viewers Trenton Oldfield, 36, halted the annual race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities on April 7 this year.
He told a jury at London's Isleworth Crown Court, where he denies causing a public nuisance, that the race was a symbol of elitism in Government and that London "has the highest inequality in the western world".
Asked what the Boat Race had to do with it, Oldfield said: "It's a symbol of a lot of issues in Britain around class, 70% of Government pushing through very significant cuts are Oxford or Cambridge graduates.
"It was a symbolic gesture to these kind of issues."
Australian Oldfield, who moved to the UK in 2001, decided to make the protest after learning of Government plans to "sell-off" the NHS, "snoop" on electronic communications and hearing encouragement given to "dob in" people planning protests during the Olympics.
The defendant, of Myrdle Street, east London, had worked and volunteered for a decade working in jobs and projects aimed at increasing better prospects for people in impoverished areas.
With coalition public spending cuts implemented, London was "kind of worse than in Dickens' time", he said.
"With these levels of cuts it became apparent to me that something needed to be done.
"I felt it was an important thing to do."