Readers will remember that the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society distanced itself from Bethune whilst he was on trial in Japan earlier in the year. At the time it was seen as a ploy to help Bethune evade a hefty sentence for his involvement in Sea Shepherd's eco-terrorism against Japanese whalers in the Southern Ocean. But now the REAL story is starting to emerge - the Herald reports:
A bitter feud has broken out between anti-whaling activist Pete Bethune and the conservation group Sea Shepherd, which broke ties with him yesterday.
Mr Bethune, 45, says he has resigned from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, citing the alleged dishonesty of its senior members as his reason.
The Hamilton-born activist has been embroiled in a war of words with Sea Shepherd founder and captain Paul Watson over his trial in Japan in June and incidents leading up to it.
There's been a real clash of wills between Bethune and Watson. That's hardly surprising, as both men hold very strong opinions, and neither is likely to admit that he is wrong. It really is a clash of wills.
At the centre of the falling-out is an allegation from Bethune that Watson ordered him to scuttle the vessel Ady Gil after the collision with the Japanese whaling ship Shonan Maru No 2. The Ady Gil received significant damage in the collision (for which blame can be attributed to BOTH parties, in our humble opinion; another clash of wills). Bethune believed that the Ady Gil was salvageable, but claims that Watson over-ruled him, later claiming that the Ady Gil sunk whilst under tow.
We're not surprised at this development. Bethune had made a huge financial and emotional investment in the Ady Gil (formerly Earthrace), and to have to sink it must have been heartbreaking. But in our opinion, this is further proof of the lengths to which Paul Watson will go in his crusade against the Japanese.
A visit to Sea Shepherd's website in revealing; there are two anti-Bethune stories on the front page. The first confirms that Sea Shepherd has cut its ties with Bethune, and accuses him of giving false testimony to the Japanese authorities which has led to an arrest warrant being issued against Watson.
The second story is even more revealing. Watson has gone on the attack, and released correspondence between himself and Bethune in an effort to justify his actions. The allegations, denials and counter-allegations make interesting reading, to say the least!
FWIW, we'd accept Bethune's version of events over that of Watson. After all, Paul Watson is on record as saying "There's nothing wrong with being a terrorist, as long as you win. Then you write the history." It will be interesting to see how this story plays out, who wins, and what history eventually writes; Watson's version, or that of Pete Bethune.