26 Jul 2012

Police wasted time pursuing protest case - lawyer

7:45 pm on 26 July 2012

A judge has thrown out charges against a skipper who took part in a protest against deep-sea oil exploration off East Cape, and the accused's lawyer says police wasted resources by bringing the matter to court.

Elvis Teddy was charged with operating a ship causing an unnecessary risk and resisting arrest after his boat San Pietro took part in a protest flotilla in April last year.

In the Tauranga District Court on Thursday morning, the judge who presided over Mr Teddy's trial dismissed the charges.

Mr Teddy's lawyer, Ron Mansfield, says police had no jurisdiction for boarding the boat or arresting his client, because the alleged offending took place beyond New Zealand's territorial waters.

Mr Teddy says the case has been hard for him, as he feared he would lose his skipper's ticket and his livelihood.

The eastern Bay of Plenty iwi Te Whanau a Apanui says it now wants answers from the Government as to why the case was brought.

Greenpeace, which also took part in the protest flotilla, also says the case should never have gone to court. Campaigner Simon Boxer says the judge's decision sends a clear message to the Government and the international oil industry that people's rights and wishes cannot be disregarded.