'It's 21st century bloodsport': Columnist tracks down Oxford student 'hounded out' of UK

13 May 2022, 15:15 | Updated: 13 May 2022, 15:53

'It's 21st century bloodsport': Columnist tracks down Oxford student 'hounded out' of UK
'It's 21st century bloodsport': Columnist tracks down Oxford student 'hounded out' of UK. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Tim Dodd

Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty tells James O'Brien of his catchup with the Oxford student who was "hounded out" of Britain following a motion to ban the Queen's picture from his common room that he didn't even support.

Matthew Katzman was president of the postgraduates’ middle common room (MCR) at Magdalen College Oxford where students overwhelmingly voted to remove a portrait of the Queen to make members "feel welcome" according to Political website Guido Fawkes, with one student said to have commented that "patriotism and colonialism are not really separable".

Mr Chakrabortty reported in The Guardian that before the common room's meeting, Matthew was "presented with a motion from an MCR subcommittee asking for the removal of the picture of the Queen. Katzman redrafted the motion, playing down its accusation of colonialism".

"Instead, he wrote that those associations made some students uncomfortable. His name was appended as a formality, yet at a sparsely attended meeting, he neither spoke for the motion nor supported it. Seventeen students voted, only two opposed," he writes.

Matthew left the UK following a backlash over the decision and is now doing his PhD in America as he "no longer feels able to come back to this country", according to Mr Chakrabortty.

Speaking to James O'Brien after he tracked down Matthew, Mr Chakrabortty said: "Basically, the story was 180 degrees opposite of what was presented.

"What happened as a result of the press, pretty directly, was he started within hours of the first blog post... getting hate mail.

"And hate mail curdled into antisemitic emails, about how he looks like he's Jewish, and he's got a Jewish name, and then it turned into outright death threats."

Mr Chakrabortty said the press were "aided" by Gavin Williamson, Jacob Rees-Mogg, and even the PM who decided to "weigh in", and Matthew was moved into a secure room in his college where he and his girlfriend were isolated for 5 days.

"If you can imagine, your only contact with the outside world at that point is your phone, and what's coming to your phone every few minutes, at one point he's saying every ten minutes he's getting at least an email saying how much this person hates him and wants him wiped off the face of the earth," he said.

"They accused him of cancelling the Queen, but they cancelled him.

"He said to me at one point 'You know, I really feel like the British system failed me, because it wasn't just the media it was also the politicians, and they were all trashing me for their own ends'."

James said: "The Irony in a way... is that Matthew got cancelled."

"Yeah. They hounded him, and they hounded him out of the country. And they accused him of cancelling the Queen, but they cancelled him so that he no longer feels able to come back to this country," Mr Chakrabortty replied.

"It's a kind of 21st century bloodsport James."

Read more: Oxford: Boris Johnson backs opposition to removal of Queen portrait

James O'Brien dissects 'baffling' US gun control opposition

James O'Brien dissects 'baffling' US gun control opposition

James O'Brien: Boris Johnson 'thinks he's the real victim' of Partygate

James O'Brien: Boris Johnson 'thinks he's the real victim' of Partygate

'I feel used!' Tearful veteran 'embarrassed' by Britain's Afghan withdrawal

'I feel used!': Tearful veteran 'embarrassed' by Britain's Afghan withdrawal

James O'Brien's 'astonishing' takedown of PM's Partygate misconduct

James O'Brien's 'astonishing' takedown of PM's Partygate misconduct

Boys at Rishi Sunak's school had 'no idea' about outside world says ex-employee

Boys at Rishi Sunak's school had 'no idea' about outside world says ex-employee

James O'Brien: Rishi Sunak's wealth 'unjustifiable' amid cost of living crisis

James O'Brien: Rishi Sunak's wealth 'unjustifiable' amid cost of living crisis

John Sweeney: I do not think that Vladimir Putin has long for this world

John Sweeney: I do not think that Vladimir Putin has long for this world

James O'Brien tears apart government's 'ideological' opposition to a windfall tax

James O'Brien tears apart government's 'ideological' opposition to a windfall tax

Most Red Wall seats worse off under Boris Johnson despite levelling up promise

Most Red Wall seats worse off under Boris Johnson despite levelling up promise

James O'Brien: Boris Johnson 'running scared of backbenchers' over obesity

James O'Brien: Boris Johnson 'running scared of backbenchers' over obesity

Exclusive
Jamie Oliver spoke to James O'Brien on LBC today

Jamie Oliver’s Eton Mess protest on Downing St as he slams Boris for child obesity u-turn

'Is it contempt for the less fortunate?' James O'Brien blasts Tory Minister over poverty

'Is it contempt for the less fortunate?' James O'Brien blasts Tory Minister over poverty

James O'Brien's furious reaction to blocking of Lord Lebedev security assessment

James O'Brien's furious reaction to blocking of Lord Lebedev security assessment

James O'Brien argues the government has "massively conned" the public into thinking that it doesn't matter that "the only Covid law-making address in the country has become the biggest Covid law-breaking address... arguably in the world".

James O'Brien: Press 'conned' you that Partygate doesn't matter, I think it's worked

Food bank worker accuses idiot' Tory MP Lee Anderson of lying

Food bank worker accuses 'idiot' Tory MP Lee Anderson of lying

'It's a loss to me personally': Author Mick Herron opens up about killing characters to James O'Brien

'He's trying to get a rise': Author Mick Heron unravels spy Jackson Lamb's motivations