There has been a lot of discussion on other pages about my alleged suing of SSCS, so I am writing this to put my perspective on things. I had not wanted this opened in the public like this, however there is so much nonsense being said elsewhere that I must at least put across my view. I will not debate the issue after posting this.
The Earthrace boat was sold to Sea Shepherd / Ady Gil on 20 Nov 2009 for $1.5m. At that stage my debts were $1.6m, so it would have nearly covered the debt I had amassed in constructing the vessel. As part of the deal, Ady Gil paid me $1m on this day, and had the boat named after him. He got ownership of the vessel, and Sea Shepherd got to lease the vessel from him for $1 per year with automatic right of renewal. Ady had no say in crew or where the vessel went. This was entirely up to Sea Shepherd.
At the time Sea Shepherd had limited funds, and so they asked to delay their payment of the $500k until 20th November 2010 – Which I agreed to. This was written in to the Sale and Purchase agreement that was signed by the Sea Shepherd CEO.
A few days later the vessel left New Zealand and went to Australia, then Antarctica, as part of the Waltzing Matilda campaign. It went, according to Paul, as the new Sea Shepherd Harpoon Interceptor Vessel. It was no longer my vessel at all. It was owned by Ady Gil, who in turn leased it to Sea Shepherd. Sea Shepherd were paid by Animal Planet a location fee to film on the vessel, and there was Sea Shepherd branding placed over the hull. My crew were signed up volunteers of Sea Shepherd.
In Antarctica, the vessel was rammed by the Japanese security vessel the Shonan Maru #2. They were the port side vessel and the overtaking vessel, and thus had a legal obligation to keep clear of us. This they failed to do. The maritime Safety report acknowledges we had the right of way. They do also say that once it was clear they were coming very close to us, that we should have vacated the area, however we were being hit by both LRAD and water canons which made communication difficult. It also happened very quickly. By the time we knew they were turning to ram us, it was effectively too late. Added to this we were basically out of fuel, something Sea Shepherd was well aware of leading up to this point.
The vessel’s bow was ripped off. She would not sink, however she sustained considerable damage. A decision was made to tow her to the French base, about 150nm away. While preparing for this, I was instructed by Paul to scuttle the vessel. He instructed me not to tell anyone. Although several crew on the Bob Barker were privy to this, and two went on the Ady Gil when we opened the sea-cocks and hatches to allow her to sink. I was not sure if she would sink. I knew she was very light. But I knew she would get progressively heaver and become too difficult to tow as she filled with water.
I went to bed. When I awoke in the morning, I was informed that the Ady Gil tow-line had snapped during the night, and the decision had been made to leave the Ady Gil. We then recreate the scene for Animal Planet where we pretend that the tow-line has just snapped, and I supposedly make the decision to leave the vessel. This entire scene on Whale Wars (during daylight hours) was simply faked because the vessel was left behind hours before (during darkness) when I was asleep, and Sea Shepherd wanted it implied that I had made the decision to leave the vessel. I was instructed not to discuss the above with media, friends, family, and especially not with Ady Gil (at this stage the legal owner of the vessel). Note the Animal Planet crew and my crew were not even told when the vessel was left. This is why there is no footage of us saying goodbye to the vessel we loved.
Sea Shepherd announces generous donations coming in to replace the Ady Gil. A Sea Shepherd fundraiser is also held in the US to raise funds for the new vessel. The media event surrounding the ramming and sinking becomes the biggest Sea Shepherd story in history (according to Paul). At no stage does Paul claim it is not a Sea shepherd vessel. He claims it was a Sea Shepherd vessel that was deliberately rammed by the Japanese. And he rightly claims the Japanese are at fault.
A while later I board the Shonan Maru #2, and am taken back to Japan. I am out of reach for basically 5 months. During this period, several letters from Sea Shepherd to my ex wife confirm that Sea Shepherd will be paying the $500k on 20th November 2010, as per the agreement.
A month before my sentencing in Japan, I am informed that I have been expelled from Sea Shepherd because I took a bow and arrow to Antarctica. The bow and arrow was a tactic Paul had agreed to. On getting out of Japan, Sea shepherd turns up in New Zealand saying in fact I have not been booted out, and I am welcome back on the next campaign in Antarctica. They then take me to the US where I do various media events, including the Jay Leno show with Paul. My fake expulsion Paul claims was simply done to assist my case. My lawyers however hated the expulsion and in no way did they want it to happen. They said to me that it harmed my case more than helped.
While in the US doing media for Sea Shepherd, Paul confirms that the $500k will be paid back to me and my ex-wife when it is due in November 2010.
Over the subsequent months however my position in Sea shepherd becomes more and more difficult as I am squeezed away from the organisation I had dedicated a year of my life to. Sea Shepherd reneges on various agreements we had made.
I get the first suggestions from Sea Shepherd that I may not be getting the $500k because of my legal fees in Japan. Then I am told I have cost Paul Watson loss in freedom because he was placed on the Interpol blue watch over my testimony. In fact my testimony was only a small element in a massive batch of evidence the Japanese had amassed. The prosecutors had so much evidence to trawl through. 3 years of Whale Wars and hundreds of press releases for example. All I ever said in Japan was what my lawyers, hired by Sea Shepherd, had said to – Nothing more, nothing less. They never once said “do not mention Paul”, or anything like that. The main thing they focussed on was “not wanting the bow and arrow” included in evidence. This instruction came from Sea Shepherd. I had no problem with the bow and arrow. I pled guilty to some charges, in exchange for having the bow and arrow and other things not included in the evidence, and this was under instruction from my Sea Shepherd lawyers.
Paul and others have suggested I showed little backbone in Japan because I agreed to certain charges and I spoke to the Prosecutors. “Nobody talks, everyone walks”, has commonly been said. If I took this approach, according to my lawyers, I’d still be in prison today, and my legal fees would run into many millions. In the end, by pleading guilty to 4 charges, I was out in 5 months and our legal fees were about $350k. And this was under instruction from Sea Shepherd lawyers.
Eventually I resign from Sea Shepherd (Paul will argue he expels me a second time) and I come clean about my role in the deliberate scuttling of the Ady Gil.
When the money falls due, it is not paid. After months of sending emails to various people within Sea Shepherd, I am finally informed that I will not be paid because of my role in the ramming.
I hire a lawyer who commences dialogue with Sea Shepherd to recover the funds, but it remains evident that they have no intention of paying, nor will they enter into voluntary arbitration or even discussion on the subject. Eventually I proceed with forced arbitration, a provision included in the original sale and purchase agreement.
Sea Shepherd then threaten me that if I do force them to arbitration, that they will tie me down with numerous counter claims, and that I should simply forget about the $500k.
I proceed with the arbitration, and over the next six months, Sea Shepherd will be forced to front up and explain their case to an Arbitrator. As will I. In a counter claim, Sea Shepherd have said that because of my involvement in the ramming, that I have cost them $500k, which negates the $500k they owe me.
So when Paul says I am suing Sea Shepherd for $500k for the sinking of the Ady Gil. Well in fact the opposite is true. Sea Shepherd is effectively suing me for $500k because of the ramming. I am simply taking to arbitration a party that I have a legally binding contract with that was signed in 2009.
That Sea Shepherd is suing a volunteer for $500k is more an indictment on Sea Shepherd than myself. I cannot find evidence of a single NPO / NGO that has sued their volunteers before. It astounds me that after giving up a large part of my life for this organisation, not to mention my freedom for 5 months in a Japanese prison, that they would have the temerity to summarily charge me $500k and expect me to walk away.
I applaud Paul for what he has achieved. And I have no problem people supporting Sea Shepherd. Paul continues to do good work in the Faroes, Palau, Namibia and other areas. But I also think he should be honest about a debt rightfully incurred in 2009 and that should be paid. If he believes I should be charged $500k, then he should not pretend otherwise to my family and I for twelve months, and then refuse all communication over the issue.
It is a shame that almost 2 years after the ramming, this debate still continues. I wish Sea Shepherd and I could just move on. But it is Sea shepherd who has dragged this out by failing to pay their debt, by failing to enter into arbitration voluntarily, by suing me for the sinking, and now in posting various half-truths that malign me.
I have no intention of continuing this debate further. This post is simply to state the facts as I see them, which differ vastly from many posts propagating around networking sites. From here I wish simply to present my case to the Arbitrator and let them decide. I hope Paul will choose to do the same. And both parties I hope will simply accept the Arbitrators decision and we can all move on.
Those of you who support Sea Shepherd – well I hope you will continue to do so. Those of you who support me, well I hope you will continue with that as well. And I have no problems with those of you who support both. If some of you wish to no longer support me because I have the nerve to force Sea Shepherd to arbitration – well that is your choice and I respect it.