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[ISN] We had permission, Chasers say


By staff writers and wires
September 07, 2007

The Chaser pranksters charged for breaching APEC security with a bogus 
motorcade that came close to George W Bush's hotel say police gave them 

ABC TV which airs the satirical The Chaser's War on Everything, and the 
program's producers, said in a statement last night that the Chaser team 
had no intention of entering the APEC restricted zone.

They had no knowledge that they had entered a restricted zone, the 
statement said.

"The motorcade proceeded down Macquarie Street with the permission of 

"When the Chaser reached the perimeter of what they thought was the APEC 
restricted zone, they voluntarily turned around.

"The police only detained the Chaser motorcade when it was turning 
around and after Chas Licciardello emerged from a car dressed as Osama 
bin Laden."

Chasers surprised

A source inside the show has told The Daily Telegraph the team never 
expected to get so far. The skit had been approved by ABC lawyers but 
was written in the assumption they would be stopped at the first 

Instead they were waved through the first on Macquarie St, then a 
second, which had sniffer dogs, and eventually stopped themselves at 
Bridge St.

"As they did Chas got out of a car dressed as Osama bin Laden and said 
something like 'I'm an important world leader why don't I have a seat at 
the APEC table?'. Apparently that was the first time the police realised 
it was not authentic and they swooped in and arrested everybody," the 
source said.

The ABC statement said the Chaser team members were wearing mock 
"insecurity" passes, which expressly stated they were a joke.

But the head of the APEC investigation squad, NSW Police Force Detective 
Superintendent Ken McKay was not amused.

He issued his own statement last night, but he did not mention police 
had given permission to the comedians.

"While it appears it was a prank, the current APEC security environment 
isn't the place to do it," he said.

"Who they are is irrelevant - they were charged like anyone else who 
breaks the law."

The stunt exposed an embarrassing and potentially dangerous flaw in the 
$250 million security measures put in place to protect 21 world leaders, 
many of whom will converge on Sydney today for the start of the APEC 

Officers involved in the APEC security operation revealed last night 
that police manning CBD roadblocks are frequently not told whether 
motorcades coming toward them are legitimate.

"We're amazed at the lack of communication that allowed this to happen 
but how are they to know whether a motorcade is legitimate when they're 
not supposed to stop them and nothing is broadcast over the (police) 
radio," an officer said.

A NSW Police spokesman last night denied a lack of communications led to 
the security blunder and said adequate communication systems were in 

Eleven arrested

The convoy of three black cars, decked out to resemble an official 
Canadian motorcade, came within metres of the hotel where US President 
George W Bush is staying, before finally being pulled over by 

Eleven people were arrested, including Licciardello, who sat in the back 
of one of the cars dressed as Osama bin Laden.

Also arrested was Julian Morrow, who posed as a security guard running 
alongside the motorcade.

All 11, ten men and one woman aged between 25 and 47, were charged with 
entering a restricted area without justification.

The charge comes under newly legislated APEC laws that restrict anyone 
from entering declared zones during APEC.

Authorities had warned there would be a presumption against bail for 
people arrested in the APEC security zone, but all were granted bail to 
appear in the Downing Centre Local Court on October 4.

- from AAP and The Daily Telegraph

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