Sentence date for activists put off

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012

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Lucy Lawless and her Greenpeace activists have yet another reprieve after their sentencing was again adjourned.

The group has already pleaded guilty to illegally boarding the drill ship Noble Discoverer in February, delaying its departure from Port Taranaki in New Plymouth.

Shell is calling for reparation of $700,000 from the eight protesters.

The group changed their plea after the initial charge of burglary was downgraded to the illegal boarding charge.

The group breached port security, scaling the ship's drilling rig and remaining camped there for more than 70 hours to protest against Shell's intention to drill for oil in Arctic waters.

They were to be sentenced in September and this was postponed until today.

A spokeswoman for New Plymouth District Court confirmed yesterday the case was again adjourned but gave no explanation as to why.

But Greenpeace said yesterday the sentencing was put off because Shell failed to provide the required information to back its claim for $700,000 in reparation.

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid said Shell's reparation claim was totally unjustified, given that the activists acted out of a moral duty.

"Along with the activists we drew the world's attention to Shell's plans for this hostile, yet fragile environment, in which an oil spill would be impossible to clean up.

"Since then it's been exposed that Shell's emergency response plan was hopelessly inadequate and failed when tested before the company gave up on drilling in the Arctic for this northern summer."

Greenpeace claims that since February's protest in New Plymouth, more than 2.5 million people had signed a petition calling on Shell to abandon its plans for the Arctic.

Calls to Shell New Zealand were not returned yesterday.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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