“The ironic thing is I’m not even a Tory, I’m the first kid in the history of my school to go to Oxford as an undergraduate, I know three adults in this entire country, I’m a practising Roman Catholic and an American of Irish descent – I’m hardly the image of Tory privilege.Gallagher was also critical of the national Conservative party, branding the move to affiliate with OCA has “disgustingly political”. He added, “The real disgrace is that right now, knowing all of this, knowing OUCA has been expelled from the University, the Conservative Party has decided to readmit the association when it has undertaken only the most cosmetic of changes.”During the scandal, Andrew Griffiths (Chief of Staff to the Chair of the Conservative Party, Eric Pickles) called Gallagher and asked for his account of events. Gallagher recalled, “He said that the party would make a decision before getting back to me. At around one in the morning the Daily Mail broke the story, at which point it became apparent that the Party had put out a press release defending itself and throwing me under a bus, telling the papers that I had been suspended – none of which they had seen fit to inform me of.” Gallagher claims that he was taken by surprise by the media reaction.“At the time the notion, as an outsider, that a twenty year old foreign kid saying something to a room of about twenty people would become national news seemed absolutely ludicrous to me.”Turning to the accusations of racism levelled against him, Gallagher defended his remarks. Explaining his version of events, he stressed that his remarks were in contrast to OUCA’s long-standing tradition of telling inappropriate jokes.“The candidates running for the position immediately before mine were asked, as is traditional at OUCA hustings, to tell a racist or offensive joke. In any event one of them did and there was an uproar, with half of the room shouting it was inappropriate, and the other half saying they’d always asked it in OUCA hustings, so why should they stop now? They were gabbled down, at which point it was my turn to speak.”Mr Gallagher was due to take part in a discussion on freedom of speech – he claimed that it was in this context that he made the following remark: “Well, the atmosphere’s a little tense in here, why don’t I open with a joke?”Admitting that following this, he said ‘What do you say when you see a television moving around in the dark?’, he was adamant that he never made any racial slur: “I never delivered the punchline.”Mr Gallagher blames the interpretation of the joke on a lack of appreciation for its context. “It was in the middle of a discussion of freedom of speech”. He describes it as “the difference between showing hardcore pornography and discussing it in the context of female stereotypes in society.”When asked why he hasn’t spoken up until now, Gallagher replied, “I didn’t want my response to this to occur in the dead of July when nobody at Oxford would be aware of it.”Justifying his decision to speak to Cherwell, Gallagher says simply, “I see no reason why I should be crucified for the Conservative Party’s historical sins.” Last Trinity, the Oxford Conservative Association (OCA) was rocked by allegations of racism after it emerged that racist jokes had been told during hustings.Oriel student Nick Gallagher, then a member, was directly implicated in the scandal, accused of racism by the national press, and was the only member to be indentified and pictured in a Daily Mail article on the event after resigning from then-OUCA.Speaking publically for the first time in a Cherwell exclusive interview, Mr Gallagher disputed the record of events appearing in the national press, claiming that his remarks had been taken out of context. He asserted that the joke made had been in relation to a discussion about freedom of speech, and that he had not uttered any racist punchline.“The important thing to realise from the beginning is that the Proctors conducted a six week investigation into the hustings and found no reason to proceed against me, but did proceed against OUCA.”He added, “I’m the only person who was at the hustings who is not under university interdict right now.”Striking out at his former organisation, Gallagher claimed he had been pushed into resigning his membership. “If I didn’t resign I would have been thrown out of the association with a press release branding me a racist. I was literally taken round the back by three of them and told this. Some of them were friends of mine, all of them knew what happened. It was an act of pure cowardice, they were afraid for their own political survival and nothing else.”Gallagher recounted that members of the association who didn’t know him “judged on the basis of a slanderous story and a photograph that makes me look like a complete twit.”Gallagher was pictured alongside a Daily Mail article on the controversy, wearing black tie and holding a glass of champagne. He alleges that he was approached by a Daily Mail reporter ostensibly writing a sympathetic piece about the event. According to Gallagher, the reporter then proceded to “twist what I said into an admission of guilt”, even adding a punchline which Gallagher claims he had never heard.
“We want to thank NUCO, the Varsity Trip operator, for all the help they gave Matt when he needed them, and their unfailing assistance for us once we arrived in resort. The local authorities here have been sensitive and helpful, for which we also thankful.”Fellow students take Smith’s snowboard “for one last ride” and leave it in the Alps.Smith’s friends from Bedford Modern School have also paid tribute to the talented student, who was secretary of Oxford University’s ski and snowboard club, as well as playing rugby for St John’s first XV and rowing in their first boat.Eóin Barrett-Fulton, who knew Matt for 12 years, told Cherwell, “There is no way that I could possibly put into words how much Matt meant to me. Over the last 10 years he had helped me to become who I am today, always pushing me to be better than I was yesterday.“He was our voice of reason when we needed it, and the exact opposite if we needed that as well, leading to some of the best memories anyone could hope to share with someone. There was never a dull moment with Matt, be it traveling the world, rowing the Thames, or just hanging out at his house and doing nothing, Matt was always there with a smile on his face and an idea of something fun to do to pass the time. “He was the best of us, he was an ideal to strive towards, I will forever look up to him as one of the most intelligent and funny people I have ever met, and I will miss him more than he will ever know. I love you Matt. Rest in peace.”James Rodgers, who attended the same school as Matt from the age of ten, said, “I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to write something good enough to rightfully honour Matt or reflect upon the momentous influence he had on my life. I am truly inconsolable. He was the best of friends and it saddens me more than I can ever say that no matter how many good memories I have of him to cherish, we will never have the chance to make more.“I want him to be remembered as the statuesque individual he was. In life his person and his achievements towered above everyone else. He achieved so much in such a short life yet remained endlessly humble. His charisma, and effervescent intelligence won him friends in all aspects of his life, and his loyalty to his friends meant they remained always by his side“I could go on and talk at length, such was the brilliance of Matt’s character, but it can’t go without being said that he was an extremely remarkable person and I am honoured to have called him one of my closest friends for so long. He will be sorely missed.”Similarly, tributes have poured in from Oxford students who knew the third-year history student.Charles Styles, who studies Philosophy and Theology at St John’s, wrote for Cherwell, “Matt, So many stories, none of them appropriate. You were my very first friend at Oxford and I was fortunate enough to live next to you for two years. I feel so lucky to have got to know you as well as I did. No one has ever made me laugh like you were able to.“You were always so cool, so sharp, and utterly outrageous. You managed to be refined and a mess at the same time. You were charismatic, athletic, perceptive, and endlessly mischievous. Your future was so bright. I’m going to miss so much. I’m going to miss seeing you dress smarter and smarter, the closer it got to laundry day. I’m going to miss watching you break into your own room because you forgot your keys. I’m going to miss telling you how terrible your tattoos were. Your hero Oscar Wilde wrote that “to live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist – that is all”. And despite being cut so painfully short, you truly lived, Matt. 30% yours, Charles.” Friends and family have paid tribute to Oxford undergraduate Matt Smith who is believed to have died of a heart attack in Val Thorens on Sunday morning.The third-year history student is understood to have suffered cardiac arrest after the first night of the Oxford and Cambridge universities’ ski trip to the Alps, which is attended by thousands of Oxbridge students.Matt’s brother Harry Smith commented, “I don’t really know where to start when I begin to think about what kind of person Matt was. He was brilliant, charming and much more than a brother to me, he was a mentor and someone that I thrived to be like, whilst also being my best friend. Without him I wouldn’t be who I am today. He brought so much joy to my life and many others and the memories we all shared with him will stay with us forever.“He really was such a promising talent with a very bright future ahead of him that was cut short way too soon. I’m glad that of all places, he passed in a place surrounded by what he loves the most with some of his closest friends around him, I just wish I could’ve been there with him. I loved him so much and I’m going to miss him more than words can describe.”In a statement, Smith’s family said, “Matt was adventurous and imaginative in life, and kind, generous and loyal to his friends. Matt made friends everywhere, and seemed to capture the hearts of whomever he met. He intensely wished everyone to strive to achieve all they could; he felt anything was possible, and did not believe in regrets.“Since his death, we have been astonished at the outpouring of love for Matt, and the many stories from friends who’ve told us how he influenced their lives for the better. It was amazing to hear about the sheer amount of joy he’d spread, even though we sometimes do not know whether to laugh or cry.“Matt loved the mountains. He especially looked forward to the annual Varsity Trip. Even though he didn’t have the chance to start enjoying it this year, he would have wanted the party to carry on without him. He would have applauded the way his fellow snow-lovers took his snowboard for one last ride this week. The support from the Varsity Trip committee and the camaraderie among all the students has been wonderful to witness. Luke Markham, who lived on the same staircase as Smith in first year, commented, “Smithers [Matt] didn’t do half measures. He wouldn’t come over for a chat, or a cup of tea. But when the fun started escalating, when the pressure was on, or when you really needed him the most. Smithers was there. Smithers was all-in.”Christina Scottie St Claire, who also attended St John’s with Smith, said, “Matt was one of my most valued and extraordinary friends. He never stopped chasing adventures and new experiences and always included me in the ride. He’d go away somewhere and come back with hilarious stories of mishaps and unusual events that always ended in wonderful, envious, inspiring tales. He was thoughtful and had an attitude towards life that was founded on the idea that nothing really matters so you might as well do what you want. As we remember Matt, we’ve Never Felt Closer. ”The state prosecutor in Albertville, Jean-Pascal Violet, said the authorities suspected Smith died from “heart failure linked to a combination of consuming alcohol and medicines”, but that they had no certainty that this was true.However, Smith’s brother Harry criticised reports that he had been out partying before his death.He told The Guardian, “Matt had definitely not gone out drinking or partying upon arrival in the resort. He went straight to his girlfriend’s hotel room, and so we believe it must have been an underlying health condition. It’s been upsetting how most articles have been focusing on details which aren’t even true.”A spokesperson for Oxford University said, “We would like to express our deep sadness at the tragic death and send our condolences to his family and friends.“While we await the findings of the official investigation we are offering support to students who may have been affected. Members of the college were invited to gather on Sunday to remember him, and any member of the college who is particularly affected by this sad news has been encouraged to contact the chaplain or any member of the welfare team.”