It has emerged that one of the masterminds behind the national day of action against Vodafone, which forced up to thirty Vodafone stores across the country to close, was a recent Oxford graduate.
Thom Costello, who graduated from St. Catherine’s College with a First Class degree in English Language and Literature in 2008, played a key role in orchestrating UK Uncut’s campaign to demonise Vodafone, who allegedly evaded £6 billion worth of tax.
Earlier this month, the Vodafone shop on Cornmarket Street in Oxford’s city centre was one of the stores to have been forced to shut temporarily, as protestors formed a sit in at the shop’s entrance.
Thirty people forced the Vodafone shop on Cornmarket to temporarily close on Saturday, in a protest against corporate tax evasion.
While at Oxford, Costello was well known for his political activism. Rossa O’Keefe-O’Donnovan, a PPE graduate from St. Catz, said of Costello, “The guy is a genius, he got the top mark in his English finals and had multiple plays published and performed.
“He was also a hardcore environmental protestor, and was quite into direct action, so I guess this sort of thing doesn’t surprise me too much.”
Ben Lyons, a former co-Chair of the Oxford University Labour Club who knew Costello from St. Catz, recalled, “Thom was not so much involved in party politics, he was more into campaigns.”
While at Oxford, Costello took part in the occupation of the Clarendon Building on Broad Street, to protest against the university’s investment in BAE Systems and other companies which provided defence equipment to Israel, and to condemn Israeli actions in Gaza. Costello is pictured in the right of the photograph, leaning out of a window at the Clarendon building.
However, not everyone was as quick to sing the praises of Costello’s political activism. One of Costello’s peers from Oxford said, “Tom was very opinionated, always willing to cause a fuss about absolutely anything.
“He was really into politics and political activism, but I thought a lot of the time it was trying to be controversial for the sake of it, sometimes to the point of being deliberately awkward and difficult. I thought his willingness to use civil disobediance was far too lax.”
Costello, 22, is part of the organisation UK Uncut, who are planning a mass day of action next month.
It has been predicted that their next target will be Boots, who have also been accused of tax avoidance. Costello, who was operating under the pseudonym Sam Baker, is currently working for the television production company CTVC.