Lawless charged with burglary

Police lay a surprise charge against the actress and her fellow Greenpeace protesters.
Lucy Lawless.

UPDATE 3:49pm: The seven Greenpeace activists who protested aboard oil exploration ship, the Noble Discoverer, have been charged with burglary and will appear at the New Plymouth District Court on Thursday.

Six of the activists were arrested this morning and a seventh, who left the ship earlier and was charged with unlawfully being on a ship, was also charged with burglary. 

Despite the fact that the charge of "unlawfully being on a ship" was available, prosecutors have chosen to charge the protestors with the more serious charge of burglary. 

Greenpeace insists that no property was taken or damaged during the occupation, Greenpeace says in a statement to media.

Nothing was stolen but the charges of burglary were likely related to trespassing and access to the port, Greenpeaces spokesman on the ground Steve Abel told NBR.

The protestors were held in custody after being arrested by police this morning, but late afternoon were in processing to be released on bail.

The legal definition in relation to burglary is "effectively entering a building or ship without authority and with the intent to commit a crime OR remains in a building or ship without authority and with the intent to commit a crime", a police spokeswoman told NBR.

The six activists who arrested this morning were:

Mike Buchanan from Christchurch.
Shayne Comino from Christchurch.
Raoni Hammer from Christchurch.
Shai Nades from Wellington.
Vivienne Hadlow from Auckland.
Lucy Lawless from Auckland. 

On Saturday, Ilai Amir from Auckland left the the Nobel Explorer and was charged with illegally boarding a ship.


UPDATE 2:26pm: All the protesters were off the boat in police custody and while charges were still to be laid they may appear in court on Thursday but it wasn't concrete, NZ Police Central District communications manager Kim Perks says.

Lucy Lawless and five other protestors on the Shell-contracted Nobel Explorer were arrested this morning, 77 hours into their occupation of the ship's drilling tower.


UPDATE 12.05pm: Shell New Zealand chairman Rob Jager said he was pleased the protest had ended peacefully, but added, "We provided Greenpeace with a reasonable opportunity to engage in productive conversation and are disappointed they have not responded. We will continue to extend the offer."

Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel told NBR his organisation was trying to talk to Shell - but a corporate office in Norway rather than the company's New Zealand operation. Emails had not been returned, Mr Abel said.


UPDATE 11.50am: NZ Police Central District communications manager Kim Perks has confirmed the six protesters' arrest.

They were coming down of their own accord and once on the ground would be be taken into police custody, Ms Perks said.

It was too early to say what charges would be laid.

A seventh activist who came down on Saturday has been charged with unlawfully boarding a ship and that was an obvious possibility, Ms Perks said, but charges would be laid on an individual basis.


UPDATE 11.15am: Greenpeace activists aboard the Noble Discoverer have been arrested and are coming down, a Greenspeace spokesman on the ground Steve Abel says.

The protesters have come down on their own not willing to risk the safety of themselves or police and it was only visual confirmation they had been arrested, Mr Abel says.

NBR is in the process of confirming Mr Abel's account with police.

At 11.04am, as police prepared to climb the tower, Lucy Lawless tweeted, "Anticipating imminent arrest so doing final cleanup of camp #savethearctic. Will be dissapointed [sic] if we have to leave but will go peacefully."


Tug boats moved in around 6.30am this morning to turn the ship.

Greenpeace protestor Lucy Lawless said this morning that Shell used three tugs to turn the Noble Explorer at around 6.30am this morning.

Via Twitter - as part of a slick social media campaign being used by Greenpeace to promote the protest worldwide - Ms Lawless said three tugs had come about the ship. It was turned with her and five other protestors still on top its 53m drilling tower, but all were safe.

In a statement, Shell said it was a routine maneuver to prepare the vessel for fueling.

The Nobel Explorer had been due to depart Port Taranaki for Alaska yesterday to drill three exploratory wells off the coast.

Last night, Ms Lawless said Shell was going "Guantanamo" on the protestors, bombarding them with loud music and other sounds. The oil company said the intermittent noise during the night was part of the ship's usual operation.

One protestor, Auckland Ilai Amir, left the Nobel Explorer. on Saturday and was arrested for unlawfully boarding ship. Ms Lawless - the daughter of former Mt Albert mayor Frank Ryan and niece of late high-profile lawyer Kevin Ryan - has said she expects to be arrested.

Last night, Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel indicated the protest group was not necessarily in it for the long haul.

"At any point they can no  longer safely sustain themselves in terms of hydration, they’ll come down, Steve Abel told media.

Meantime, expect to hear more from Ms Lawless. The actress and other protestors are using solar chargers to keep their mobile phones charged, giving them access to Twitter (where Ms Lawless still leads her profile with a link to her fan club) and media.

The Xena star's presence has garnered the protest worldwide coverage. It comes at a bad time for the government, which is wary of rising green sentiment at a time it is seeks to open more offshore oil and gas exploration.

Greenpeace has coupled its Nobel Explorer occupation with a petition calling for a ban on offshore drilling.

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