Lucy Lawless fined $547 for trespassing on Arctic oil drilling ship

Lucy Lawless and seven other Greenpeace activists were each ordered to pay US$547 in costs to a port company and complete 120 hours of community service. Lucy Lawless, called the relatively light sentence a 'great victory.'

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    Actress Lucy Lawless, third from left, speaks along with Greenpeace activists, from left, Raoni Hammer, Vivienne Hadlow and Shai Naides, outside the central police station in New Plymouth, New Zealand, after their release on bail on charges relating to protesting aboard Arctic oil-drilling ship, the Noble Discoverer last February.
    (AP Photo/Greenpeace, Nigel Marple, File)
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 "Xena: Warrior Princess" actor Lucy Lawless says she's won a "great victory" after a New Zealand judge handed her a modest sentence but declined to order costs sought by oil company Shell for her role in a protest aboard an oil-drilling ship.

Lawless and seven other Greenpeace activists were each ordered Thursday to pay 651 New Zealand dollars ($547) costs to a port company and complete 120 hours of community service after earlier pleading guilty to trespass charges.

Last February, Lawless and six other activists climbed a drilling tower on the Arctic-bound vessel Noble Discoverer to protest oil exploration in the Arctic. Another protester helped from the ground. Lawless spent four days in February 2012 atop the 174-foot (53-meter) tower, camping and blogging about her experiences. The action briefly delayed the ship's voyage.

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“I’m blocking Shell’s Arctic drillship because I believe passionately that renewable energy is the way of the future,” said Lucy Lawless at the time. “We don’t have to go to the ends of the earth to suck out every last drop of oil. Instead we need to smarten up and begin the transition to a clean, green, sustainable energy future and right now that means keeping Shell out of the Arctic.”

Shell Todd Oil Services, which had chartered the ship, sought about 650,000 New Zealand dollars ($545,000) in reparations from the protesters.

Lawyers for the activists contended that amount was excessive. In his ruling, Judge Allan Roberts said the company could pursue its claim through the civil court system.

Shell Todd declined to comment on whether it would pursue civil action. In a statement, the company said: 

"Shell Todd Oil Services* has always supported the efforts of law enforcement to respond to this incident and to deter such activity in the future. That extended to supporting the Police’s case for reparation. Our  primary concern during the occupation in February last year was the safety of all concerned; the same value that continues to be at the heart of our business today along with operating in an environmentally sound manner.

STOS recognises the right of individuals to express their point of view and protest in a manner that does not place the safety of people or property at risk. We continue it has "always supported the efforts of law enforcement to respond to this incident and to deter such activity in the future."

Lawless is best known for her title role in "Xena" and more recently for starring in the Starz cable television series "Spartacus."

"I consider it a great victory that the court has struck down the reparation demand from Shell, which I think was absolutely ludicrous," Lawless said.

She said she was happy to clean toilets, pick up litter or do whatever else was required for her community service and that she has no regrets about taking part in the protest, which she said has helped highlight concerns about oil exploration in the Arctic.

Greenpeace says more than 2 million people have signed its petition to make the Arctic a sanctuary and off-limits for oil exploration.

Lawless said she plans to continue protesting against climate change and oil drilling.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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