Actress and Greenpeace activist Lucy Lawless has shrugged off revelations she acted in a 1990s television commercial for Shell Oil, the company she protested against for the past four days at Port Taranaki.
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Lawless and five other Greenpeace members were arrested yesterday when police ordered an end to their occupation of the Arctic-bound drill ship Noble Discoverer.
Another protester, who left the Shell-chartered rig on Saturday was also arrested.
The seven protesters were charged with burglary and released on bail to appear at New Plymouth District Court on Thursday.
In the early 1990s Lawless acted as a pump attendant in a television advertisement for Shell petrol.
Yesterday, Lawless admitted she was in the advertisement but then immediately launched into an environmental tirade and ended the media session.
"I remembered only when we were up there (the rig) that I actually did. I was pumping gas and somebody, and I don't think it was me, said `it's the fuel of the future'. I don't think it was my character but I always remember that line. And ah, sadly it isn't the fuel to take us into the future, we've got to get something clean."
Greenpeace NZ executive director Bunny McDiarmid said they were aware Lawless had taken part in the commercial "20 years ago, when climate change was hardly a speck on the radar".
She said it was no surprise Lawless had changed sides.
"She, like most people, they're going to wake up and realise that we have to stop drilling in the Arctic if we're going to have a future," McDiarmid said.
The immediate future for Lawless and her fellow Greenpeace activists will see them in court on burglary charges.
Central District police communications manager Kim Perks said burglary was found to be the most appropriate charge for the activists.
She summarised the legal definition of burglary as "to enter property without authority and with the intent to commit a crime," and said that the difference between burglary and trespass was criminal intent.
Illegally boarding a ship is a crime under the Maritime Transport Act.
Port Taranaki security manager Arun Chaudhari said the protesters entered the port through a neighbouring property.
"The breach was a break-in via one of our neighbour's properties. We are entirely satisfied with our security measures and plan," he said.
Chaudhari said that rumours that the activists rammed through a gate or piggybacked on a truck going through security were untrue, and said he had no knowledge of the activists wearing the uniform of port staff to get past security.
The Taranaki Daily News understands that Greenpeace used bolt-cutters to hack open padlocked chains on the neighbouring property and gain access.
Greenpeace spokesperson Steve Abel said they had inside information from port staff and ship workers that the ship was in a state of disrepair and was not fit to sail.
Shell said the Noble Discoverer had been upgraded in 2006 to drill in the Arctic.
"Shell has invested significantly in the readiness of the Discoverer, including strengthening the hull against ice forces."
The activists said they were pleased with their efforts.
"When we started this seven of us went up the rig but 133,000 came down with us in solidarity," Lawless said. "They're writing letters and we know that new heroes are going to spring up ... to make sure the energy industry is ... renewable and clean."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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