Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ady Gil Sues Over Ady Gil

Ady Gil
US businessman and conservationist Ady Gil is suing Sea Shepherd, claiming it deliberately sank his boat in the Antarctic.
Gil filed the US$5 million lawsuit last week, almost three years to the day since the state-of-the-art trimaran Ady Gil sank. You'll recall it was rammed by Japanese whaling vessel Shonan Maru 2 in the Southern Ocean in January 2010. The crash sliced off Ady Gil's prow, and it sank hours later.
At the time, SS's then-president Paul Watson said his crew had tried all day to salvage the NZ$1.5 million trimaran, but were unable to keep it afloat. But ten months later Ady Gil's skipper, kiwi Pete Bethune, claimed Watson had ordered the vessel deliberately scuttled to increase public sympathy.
Ady Gil, with the REAL
guilty party in the background.
That claim's also the basis of Mr Gil's legal action. He believes the collision was "an opportunity to spin the incident into a major publicity and moneymaker" for SS. Gil claims he let SS use his boat on the understanding they take care of it. He was not consulted by Watson before the scuttling. Gil believes the damage to his boat was repairable, and the crew only pretended to tow it back towards port.
Pete Bethune
AG's Antarctic skipper Pete Bethune is not surprised Gil is suing SS: "When he found out his boat had been scuttled deliberately, he was livid." He says he still regrets obeying Watson's orders to flood the vessel: "I'm sorry for my part of it. I should've said, 'If you want it sunk, you go and do it, I’m not a party to it.' " He says it's the only thing he regrets about his time in Antarctica: "I don't regret doing the prison time and everything else that happened, but I do regret my part in sinking that vessel." Bethune says he intends to try and stay out of the court case, but accepts he could be subpoenaed by either party: "There're only four or five people privy to exactly what happened, and I'm definitely one." Bethune is no longer involved with SS and is currently awaiting a verdict in his own case against the organisation, which he says still owes him US$500K for its share in purchasing AG from him.
Paul Watson
Watson is not too concerned about what he's calling a frivolous lawsuit, and will seek to have it dismissed. He denies AG was ever under his orders, laying blame for the Southern Ocean incident squarely on Bethune. He also denies ordering Bethune to sink AG, and says he has video evidence to prove it: "On camera I said, 'It's Pete’s boat, it's Pete's decision.' And then on camera, Pete makes the decision to abandon the boat. It was the only thing he could do really."
I find Bethune's claim curious, as viewers of the Whale Wars series will recall seeing the very same video footage Watson referred to! Quite frankly, even IF AG WAS repairable, SS was faced with major difficulties towing an open-ended severely damaged vessel thousands of miles to safety. Weigh that - and the expensive repairs - against 'making the best of a bad deal' (waving goodbye to a terminally-damaged vessel, and continuing the fight), knowing there was every likelihood of a huge sympathy vote...well, it's obvious which route was better for SS.
And as for Mr Gil planning to claim in court that he let a confrontational anti-whaling group 'use his boat on the understanding they take care of it', without considering a worst-case-scenario such as did occur, that's extremely naive.
Still, throw enough mud against SS and some may well stick...

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