Greenpeace says it believes the actor Lucy Lawless was spied on by oil companies.
This week the Herald revealed that the environmental lobby group claimed to have caught spies in the act, and had filed a privacy lawsuit in the Auckland High Court against Thompson & Clark Investigations which it alleged had run a longrunning spying campaign for oil companies Statoil and Anadarko.
Greenpeace claimed it caught the spies in the act after being tipped off by an anonymous source.
In response to questions from the Weekend Herald, Greenpeace New Zealand boss Russel Norman said Lucy Lawless’ high profile role in its climate campaign and information they have seen made it “highly likely” she was among those followed and watched.
Lawless didn’t know whether she had been followed home, as Greenpeace claims some of its members were, but told the Weekend Herald she could see why the team “are creeped out”.
“For crying out loud, if Statoil wants to know what I’m up to, they can follow me on Twitter or just read the Herald.”
Lawless said if she was being followed “in my private life to things like parent teacher meetings or tailing me when I’m out with friends, that would just be sordid and stalkerish.
“I have so many questions, like since Statoil is state- owned, was the Norwegian Government aware of it?”
Lawless said she knows the Greenpeace staff. “They are humble folk with a lot of integrity and the fact that they’ve become targets of corporatesponsored espionage is ludicrous.
“I won’t be put off by this and I’m sure that Greenpeace won’t either.”
The Herald emailed requests for comment to the companies this week. A director of Thompson & Clark said they were “bemused” by Greenpeace’s legal claim. A request for comment about Lucy Lawless has been sent to the investigation and security firm.
Prime Minister Bill English has categorically dismissed any suggestion that the Government was in any way involved or complicit and Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins also said she had no knowledge of any alleged spying.
Thompson & Clark has provided information about Greenpeace to New Zealand Petroleum & Minerals, a division of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, a spokesman for MBIE said. This was said to be information relevant to the prosecution of three Greenpeace activists.
“Thompson & Clark were the securit y company on board the Amazon Warrior seismic survey vessel [ prospecting off the Wairarapa coast] and have provided evidence of the alleged offending at sea, ” the spokesman said.
Apart from photos and videos of the alleged incident at sea, any information Thompson & Clark provided MBIE was specific to risks identified in safety and security plans, he said.
“For example, these may include pictures or locations of boat/ trailers on ramps, in relation to potential interference with an offshore activity. We are not informed about how information is gathered but we expect that anything provided has been gathered lawfully.”
In April, Norman and two other Greenpeace activists were prosecuted after jumping into the sea in front of the Amazon Warrior. The ship was conducting seismic sounding for Statoil and Chevron.
It was reported last month that the trio would be offered diversion, an avenue that would require them to admit to breaking the law. At the time Norman accused the Government of “prosecuting climate activists and pandering to oil companies”.