War on whales, turns to war of words
Thursday 7 Oct 2010 12:52 p.m.
By Brook Sabin
The war of words between anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has intensified with Mr Bethune being labelled a liar.
Mr Bethune has quit the organisation, accusing its leader Paul Watson of ordering him to sink his damaged protest vessel to gain media attention - a claim that is flatly denied.
It was a collision in the sea, thousands of kilometres from land, which sparked worldwide attention.
But 10 months later, it is causing fresh friction.
At the time, it was reported the Ady Gill sank while being towed back to Australia.
“I had my suspicions and I said to the guys when I went to bed last night ‘if the boat goes down don't wake me’,” Mr Bethune said at the time.
But now he says the boat "could" have been towed back to port, but he was instructed to go below deck - and sink it.
“It was done for PR purposes and after the sinking I wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone about it and I wasn't even allowed to visit Ady Gil,” says Mr Bethune.
“This is Ady Gil's boat and I’ve got to keep it a secret from him.”
But speaking from the United States, the head of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, Paul Watson, says that's a lie.
“It was like towing an open bucket, essentially it was 2000 miles through very stormy seas, everybody including Pete agreed it was unsalvageable,” says Mr Watson.
Mr Bethune yesterday resigned from Sea Shepherd in an open letter on his Facebook page.
He says he can no longer represent a group that deliberately misleads and lies.
“There's some serious moral errors going on in the management of Sea Shepherd, but it breaks my heart to leave the organisation - but I’m just left with no choice.”
In the past hour, the dispute has intensified. Sea Shepherd released footage, which claims to show Mr Bethune making the call about the ship's future.
This war on whales has now truly turned into a war of words.