Sentence date for activists put off

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 21/11/2012
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Greenpeace protesters on the Noble Discoverer.

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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 has denied it is calling for reparation of $700,000 from Greenpeace following an extended protest at Port Taranaki in February.

The company says the police are leading the claims for reparation.

Shell's comments follow the postponement of the sentencing of Lucy Lawless and seven other Greenpeace protesters who scaled the drilling rig of the Noble Discoverer, delaying its departure for the Arctic.

''Shell is assisting police, who are leading the prosecution, with their request for information about the costs incurred as a result of the delay caused by the Greenpeace occupation, Shell spokeswoman Shona Geary, Wellington,  said.

''It is a matter for the court to decide about what, if any, reparation it wants to impose as part of sentencing,'' Ms Geary said.

A new sentencing date, in the New Plymouth District Court, is yet to be decided.

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.

Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Bunny McDiarmid said the 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.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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