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Lucy Lawless and activists avoid $648,000 fine

Thursday 7 Feb 2013 11:00 a.m.

Actor-turned-activist Lucy Lawless and seven others sentenced to 120 hours of community service for occupying an oil exploration ship say they have no regrets.

All eight Greenpeace anti-oil lobbyists avoided a $648,000 bill at New Plymouth District Court today, instead being ordered to pay $650 each to cover port costs.

In February last year, they occupied the 53 metre-high mast of the vessel Noble Discoverer for 77 hours to protest oil exploration in the Arctic being carried out by Shell, which owns 50 percent of Shell Todd Oil Services.

Police were seeking $648,000 in reparation costs, which was supported by Shell Todd Oil but Judge Allan Roberts turned it down.

Judge Roberts says the defence tried to downplay the crime as a “trifling” offence when it was much more serious. However, he says full reparation was unnecessary.

Ms Lawless, flanked by the seven others - Raoni Hammer, Mike Buchanan, Shayne Comino, Viv Hadlow, Shai Naides, Zach Penman and Ilai Amir - told reporters outside court she was proud of the protest.

“We stand united and equally responsible for what we did. We didn’t feel that we had an option but to stand up for the environment,” she says.

“Shell’s Arctic programme has cost them billions and now it is regarded an eye-wateringly expensive failure.”

When asked where she’ll be carrying out her community service, she responded: “In toilet blocks somewhere near you”.

She says the group would happily protest again, although there are no current plans to at the moment.

“Sometimes, your feelings are so strong because the word is not getting out about the science of climate change and that your average person is not getting the knowledge,” she says.

Ms Lawless and the protesters were initially charged with burglary, but pleaded guilty when the lesser charge of unlawfully being on the ship was laid.

She says boosting her celebrity profile had nothing to do with the protest.

“There was certainly no self-interest in it – apart from the fact that we want our grandchildren to live a normal life expectancy. Is that self interest? I guess it is.”

Lawless, best-known for her roles in the television series Xena: Warrior Princess and Spartacus, says the protest prompted thousands of people to support the campaign to stop the drilling.

3 News / NZN

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