By Juliet Speedy
A bitter online feud has erupted between the anti-whaling organisation Sea Shepherd and the New Zealand skipper whose protest boat was rammed by a Japanese whaling ship.
Pete Bethune has blasted Sea Shepherd and its leader Paul Watson, describing them as ‘dishonest’ and ‘morally bankrupt’.
Pete Bethune resigned from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in an open letter on his Facebook page today; he says he can no longer represent a group that deliberately misleads and lies.
“It's gradually dawned on me how bad they are, every month there's another big lie floating around,” he wrote.
Bethune was captain of the anti-whaling vessel Ady Gil that was rammed by Japanese whaling ship the Shonan Maru 2 earlier this year.
Bethune boarded the ship to protest but was arrested, and spent four months in a Japanese jail.
He was eventually given a suspended sentence and was deported to New Zealand.
Bethune now says he was directed by Sea Shepherd admiral Paul Watson to deliberately sink the Ady Gil after it was hit by the Japanese ship.
“It was done for PR purposes and after the sinking I wasn't allowed to talk to anyone about it and I wasn't even allowed to visit Ady Gil,” he says.
“This is Ady Gil's boat and I've got to keep it a secret from him.”
Sea Shepherd expelled Bethune during his trial in Japan but later retracted their comments saying they had done so to help his case. Bethune says that too is lies.
“And it didn't assist my trial at all; the lawyer said it portrayed me as dishonest,” he says.
Bethune says senior Sea Shepherd personnel routinely lie and conspire over serious matters and his resignation letter points out many of these.
3 News couldn't contact Mr Watson, but he's sure to have his own take on what's gone from the war on whales, to a war of words.