bethune
by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Causes
Tags: , .

On a day where Paul Watson publicly responded for the first time since fleeing Germany, Pete Bethune entered a courtroom in Annapolis, Maryland to begin testimony against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

It’s been a long, contentious, and unfortunate series of events to reach this moment between the two parties.

On January 7th, 2010, Bethune lost his prized trimaran “Ady Gil” after a collision with a Japanese whaling vessel. Then came the bold move to board a whaling ship under the cover of darkness, followed by jail time in Japan, subsequent release, and a very public falling-out with Sea Shepherd in October. He later released a memoir about his adventures and went on to form his own ocean conservation group called “ECO” or “Earthrace Conservation Organization”.

Word of the lawsuit was announced last November by Bethune on Facebook – but the legal salvos actually started earlier. Back in late 2010, Watson leaked a letter from an attorney for Ady Gil (the Hollywood producer who helped purchase the vessel for $1.5M) threatening to sue unless $1,000,000 plus interest and punitive damages was paid up. In a January 2011 interview with us, Gil dismissed that a lawsuit was imminent, but said all options were on the table.

“I had a face to face meeting with Paul few months before the last campaign, and wanted to resolve the two issues: naming rights and $500K, which remains outstanding,” he said. “He claimed that he needed money for the next campaign and wanted to see if I was sympathetic to the delaying of the naming of a replacement vessel to “Ady Gil II”. I agreed to give Sea Shepherd a reasonable amount of time to find a replacement boat. We shook hands and called for a new beginning. On October 26, 2010, I was badly insulted by a Sea Shepherd board member while trying to resolve this issue. At that point I decided that the only way to resolve it would be through my lawyers.”

Gil later added: “I continue to reserve the right to sue them, but actually would like to see if they will to resolve it without the need of the court system.”

As the action playing out in Annapolis is in Bethune’s name, we have no idea if Gil eventually made any ground against Sea Shepherd. If what Watson said in response to the interview is true, neither may have a case that holds water.

“Despite misinformation, Ady Gil never donated one million dollars to Sea Shepherd,” wrote Watson. “He gave us a check for a million dollars but it was never cashed because along with the check were demands that we could not agree to as a charitable organization and thus the check was returned.

“Ady purchased the Earthrace for one million dollars. Ady then chartered the vessel to Sea Shepherd for $1. Pete Bethune unfortunately had the power to choose his own crew and they are the men seen whining on the Whale Wars episodes because Pete told them they would only be away from home for a couple of weeks. The only Sea Shepherd crewmember onboard was Laurens DeGroot and he reported that he was worried that Pete was too much of a cowboy.

“Ady Gil and Sea Shepherd did have a contract that stated that if the Ady Gil was lost, Sea Shepherd would name a second vessel after him. However when the one million dollars was not actually donated to Sea Shepherd this voided the contract and Sea Shepherd is under no legal obligation to name any vessel after Ady Gil. We did not name the first vessel Ady Gil. He gave his own name to his own boat.

“Ady sent a letter to Sea Shepherd and I in November 2010 threatening a lawsuit if we did not name our new interceptor vessel the Ady Gil II. He gave us a deadline to respond. We notified his lawyer that the “contract” was no longer binding due to the donation not having been received. We have heard nothing since.

“Pete Bethune also has no legal contract to be paid a half a million dollars. We paid that amount for his legal defense but we are not under any obligation to pay him for a vessel we never owned. He was paid $10,000 during the time he was incarcerated and the funds were sent to his wife.”

Naturally, Bethune counters this argument – saying in his November Facebook announcement that an actual purchase agreement exists signed by a Sea Shepherd CEO.

His version of the agreement:

“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 media note on the Earthrace Conservation site says there exists an additional 20 emails confirming that the remaining $500,000 would be paid to Bethune in 2010.

“I am extremely sad that I have been forced to bring this case to court against an organisation that I loved and a man that I had great respect for,” Bethune said in a statement.

“I sacrificed a year of my life to Paul and the SSCS, including five months locked up in a maximum security prison in Japan resulting from actions I took under the captaincy of Paul. He then expelled me from SSCS whilst I was in jail and their treatment of me publicly and privately since then has been a disgrace. The Japanese at least treated me with dignity and respect. Sea Shepherd in contrast has treated me like a used condom, throwing me away once I’d served its purpose.”

A ruling in the case, which ends tomorrow, is expected near the end of August.

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003872802595 Charles Morgan

    Good luck Pete, a lot of people are pulling for you. No doubt some of the hamster chicks as well.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sally.richter.56 Sally Richter

      “Hamster chicks”?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003872802595 Charles Morgan

        In reference to a comment Pete made about the ladies on the SS boats at the time of their shared adventures.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sally.richter.56 Sally Richter

        What was the comment?

      • http://www.facebook.com/sally.richter.56 Sally Richter

        lol, what kind of idiot would downvote me for asking a question?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003872802595 Charles Morgan

        He said something along the nature that the girls on board their ships weren’t that bad but kind of smelled like hamsters (I believe it was in reference to their vegan diets).

      • marcus

        None of the Sea Shepherd girls would go near Pete. There’s a picture of Petes little fella floating around. Pete thought sending a picture of his little man might get him some action. Eeeer wrong… But it has done the rounds with all mocking him.

      • ehomer

        Stop making things up. Misogynist Pete was referring to the musty smell that comes from not being able to wash clothes frequently.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sally.richter.56 Sally Richter

    I don’t agree with what Pete did, but he is SO much classier in how he talks about Watson than how Watson talks about him.

    • Deucleciano

      I would say the opposite is true.

      • http://www.facebook.com/sally.richter.56 Sally Richter

        Really? Take a look at the childish thing Paul says about him, whereas Pete says he still respects SS for what they do. He even roots for them.

      • Michael B

        He says he respects Sea Shepherd on minute then comes down on them the next. It seems he just wants to come off looking like a good guy willing to compromise when all he wants is money for his own organization and self. If he were to win this case, a large potion of the funds will be lost in legal fees. Pete admits that. This case will do little more than take money away from protecting the oceans and hinder the efforts of the world’s most-effective marine conservation organization.

      • Sloan

        Maybe the “world’s most-effective marine conservation organization” should pay it’s bill and stop effectively stealing from people. Moral high ground indeed.

      • Paul Moss

        exactly. they did pay, they were instructed to pay.

  • Karina1

    Pete Bethune made his own choices and was respected for that. Now he has lost all respect from the millions of Sea Shpeherd supporters.

    • http://www.facebook.com/sally.richter.56 Sally Richter

      Given that they respect a sociopath, I’m not sure their respect is too valuable.

      • Karina1

        You do not know the meaning of a sociopath, they are serial killers and Captain Paul Watson saves lives. Don`t you like whales Sally dear?

      • F*ckHippies

        Serial killers may be sociopaths but that does not mean all sociopaths are killers. watson is a nutjob, sea shepard, greenpeace and peta are criminals and I’d love to try whale sushi.

      • http://twitter.com/RSPW_DEP David Powell

        Amazing how once Sea Shepherd condemns Bethune, so many former friends of him put him under the Bus. Sad thing to happen to a sailor.

    • Honey’d Boo Boo

      “millions of Sea Shpeherd supporters?” first of all you need to spell the name of the org right, secondly, there’s probably only 5k actual supporters, the rest are Facebook likers.

      • marcus

        At the moment there are well over 5000 members just in little old New Zealand.

  • marcus

    Pete Bethune isn’t a marine Conservationist. Never was, never will be. His supporters are made up of Whalers, seal killers,fishermen and Sea Shepherd haters. And these supporters only number in the hundreds. And most don’t really know Pete Bethune. Because if they did they wouldn’t be sticking up for him. Paul Watson however has an amazing history in Conservation, has hundreds of thousands of supporters around the world and isn’t and never will be “over Taiji” or have beers with Whalers. To even try and compare these two people is just stupid. They are so far apart its laughable. It’s been years since Pete was with the Whaling fleet for only a few hours before he had the Ady run down and distroyed. So now he has the death of a fisherman and his boat destroyed. A very very tainted history at best. Pete bethune is amusing and that’s about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003872802595 Charles Morgan

    Good on you Pete. Enjoy your adventures and your freedom.

  • soulsista

    sorry why is Pete getting a bashing for doing this? I dont understand. A contract is a legally binding agreement and Pete upheld his side of the bargain yes so why then is someone as “courageous” and “respectable” as Paul Watson skipping bail in Germany and costing his donators $250k I think it was, not attending his court summons, squealing like a little girl about Costa Ric and how he’d be murdered if he stood trial there (please he’s not a rapist or a paedophile just a white haired veneer’d activist so who’s gonna care?) and not upholding his side of the agreement? I dont deny that he has done a lot for the whales and animals, thats not the issue though. The issue is that he’s literally crapped on a legal agreement. Pete has for more class given what he’s said about PW and the SSCS. At the beginning of each Whale Wars episode it clearly states that SSCS choose what footage is put into each episode……….so how do you know what you’re seeing isn’t just cleverly edited and chosen footage? I support what the SSCS do and have a huge amount of respect for them, but PW isn’t really doing himself any favors by backing out on a contract, using the media to make himself out to be the worlds number one hated and sought after criminal on interpol and then bashing someone who really gave their all for him. He’s making out the battle is about himself and thats he’s a victim and losing sight of the animals.

    • Paul Moss

      exactly. fact, vs the Marcus Lies. time to change tact ..or is that tack, or tacky..

      • marcus

        I guess Paul with you actually Not being there you shouldn’t really be calling people names. I suppose you could guess and make assumptions but best you don’t just so you don’t look stupid.

      • mozasaurus tex

        the court orders were made and complied with, we all know the truth according to the law now, no argument is possible. the lies are on the table, and the court orders confirm that the lies must be lies. end of story. in fact most of us are on new stories these days, several stories later…

        those behaviours are not part of our lives, we simply say no to that.

      • marcus

        I don’t think I posted anything about the courts decision. I was just making the point that Pete isn’t any “go too guy” for conservation. And Paul Moss should never make comments about things he has no clue about if he wasn’t there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/roffvald Rolf H Larsen

    The hamster thing is from his book.
    “we boarded their ship to drink their booze and sleep with their women, but they all smelled like hamsters.”

  • marcus

    I worked with Pete and while Pete was just a thought in his parents eyes Paul was saving Beavers and destroying traps illegally laid around his home town. While Pete bought his first Bow and was killing all types of wildlife as a boy, Paul Watson was starting what is now one of the largest Environmental groups on the planet GP. While Pete was probably in strip bars and boozing with his friends in high school. Paul was Starting another group now known as Sea Shepherd and on the high seas stopping illegal Whaling and protecting wildlife around the world. While Pete was killing animals and putting them up on his walls Paul was still protecting Whales and seals and other wildlife around the globe. And even tho Pete did spend 8 hours with the Japanese fleet id hardly compare the two men and i would never pull my support for a man that has dedicated his whole life to this planet.

  • BarrysHypocrisy

    hehehehehehehehe……Bethune, just by aligning yourself with Watson, you ASKED to be treated like a used condom. He squeezed whatever use he could out of you and then threw you away. You (and all of his other toadies) are just disposable tools to be used and then disposed of when no longer useful.

  • BarrysHypocrisy

    Well, he was dealing with Watson, who wouldn’t know class if it hit him in his third chin.

  • Paul Moss

    ok so now we have the truth out in court, and the money paid, and the fugitive back on land available for cross-examination, there is a remarkable turn around in attitude from those organisations that campaigned a wall of falseness. It took years of horrible and malicious lies to paint false pictures of so many people, but it is now finally clear that they were, in fact, designed for the smokescreen to get out of paying the $HALF MILLION, and a desperate attempt at maintaining a flow of funds to just one organisation.. the strategy failed for ‘them’, but worked for ‘us’, we now know clearly who lies, who is prepared to be disgusting and despicable, and who remains out there fighting for right, the animals, and justice, legally. Interesting. some of us knew the truth all along and waited very patiently for this to be clear. The damage to the human volunteers on all sides was an absolute outrage, and the result of seriously bad marketing hype, spin, and will take years of recovery. I work toward that time, of working together.

    • marcus

      Still taking those crazy pills huh

      • mozasaurus tex

        the truth can sometimes be crazy, but not this time. rules of evidence can be a harsh filter to get at the truth. bill paid, lawyers cleaned up, donors bled more than necessary. end of story.

      • marcus

        Sea Shepherd has never been stronger. New ships, more support. My point being there was no damage to volunteers. There was nothing to recover. Paul moss is taking crazy pills. People saw through all the bull. Some were mislead (like maybe a dozen) and are floating around in a single inflatable with wheels somewhere. But that’s all.

  • Wald5

    Granted, Pete looked like he wanted to play, and the cause of the marine conservation society seemed to be right. One could tell he really cared about the animals, but one could also tell that he liked a good rustle, good fun as he called it in the shows.

    No doubt the Sea Shepherd organization, especially Watson, did treat him with disrespect, effectively “cancelling” his affiliation with the organization while sitting in jail. But Pete is a big boy, he actively chose his actions, and he also seemed to accept the consequences before he boarded the ship. As the now Captain of the Bob Barker remarked: boarding the ship could carry a sentence of five years in the Japanese prison.

    Pete knew what he was getting into and part of him wanted redemption for loosing the large amount of money that he lost from the Ady Gil collision.

    Did we just watch a couple of big boys trying to play? And all of them lost? Or what?

    As long as the animals win, that is the real cause.