Following the AAP report last night, here's another article from The Taranaki Daily News with more information as to why the court date for Lucy and the other protesters has been pushed back from today (1 March) to 20 March:


lucyLucy Lawless and six other Greenpeace protesters have had their court appearance deferred almost three weeks.

The activists were to appear in the New Plymouth District Court today but yesterday police approved a request from the protesters' Auckland solicitor to adjourn their appearance until March 20.

The seven were arrested on Monday after four days' protest atop the 53m drilling rig on the Noble Discoverer, headed for an oil drilling campaign in the Arctic, in Port Taranaki.

Yesterday, Greenpeace climate campaigner Steve Abel, of Auckland, expressed concern at the serious nature of the burglary charges.

"It is a more-severe charge than expected ... it would be more appropriate to charge them with unlawfully getting on a vessel or trespass," he said.

Greenpeace lawyers would be representing the activists in court, Mr Abel said.

The first activist who came down from the rig on Saturday because of personal reasons was initially charged with trespass in that he unlawfully got on a vessel but he, too, had now been charged with burglary, Mr Abel said.

"The activists – including Lucy – took the action as a protest against Shell's intention to drill for oil in the Arctic. They understood they faced police arrest and charges, so they didn't take it lightly," he said.

"Obviously, Lucy Lawless has a completely clean record so it's an indication of how strongly she felt," Mr Abel said.

Mr Abel declined to discuss the case any further because it was now before the courts and sub judice.

It is likely the Greenpeace lawyers will strongly argue against any conviction that could result in Lawless, the star of Xena Warrior Princess and Spartacus, being barred from entry to countries such as the United States.

The maximum sentence following conviction – which is unlikely to be handed down – is 10 years' jail.

However, in the past similar protest actions had resulted in trespass convictions for activists who received penalties from fines through to community work.  Even a conviction without penalty brought consequences for the activists, he said.

Lawless, the mother of two school-age boys and an older daughter, is believed to be working in Queenstown later this week.  Mr Abel said the protest action had a resounding impact, with Shell receiving 190,000 letters, and the number continued to climb.

Taranaki Daily News stories of the protest online have attracted many comments critical of the Greenpeace action.

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