Australian comedians "could have been shot" during APEC prank

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Friday, September 7, 2007

According to the highest ranking police officer in New South Wales, the cast and crew of Australian TV show, The Chaser's War on Everything could have been shot during a prank staged in Sydney where they breached APEC security.

The comedians staged a fake motorcade to gain access to the APEC restricted area in Sydney's CBD. It is believed that the motorcade was waved through security checkpoints on Macquarie Street and ended up just metres from the hotel where United States President George W. Bush was staying. Police moved in on the group when one of the pranksters emerged from a vehicle dressed as Osama bin Laden.

Police commissioner Andrew Scipione said the prank could have resulted in someone being injured. "The reality is... (they) put security services in a position where they might have had to take an action no one would want."

"We have snipers deployed around the city. They weren't there for show, they mean business, that's what they were there for," said Mr Scipione.

I'm angry, I'm very angry that this stunt happened, it was a very dangerous stunt.

—Andrew Scipione, police commissioner

Mr Scipione was annoyed that the stunt had been carried out. He said "I'm angry, I'm very angry that this stunt happened, it was a very dangerous stunt." The commissioner also said that the comedians had already been warned about carrying out pranks during APEC. "The people that were involved were told - we told them, we sent them maps, ... We made it very clear that they shouldn't do stunts, particularly those that were going to be dangerous," said Mr Scipione.

Neil Fergus, senior executive for Intelligent Risks and former intelligence chief for the Sydney Olympics spoke out against those responsible for the prank. He reinforced that the prank could have ended up in someone being hurt and commended the police for dealing with the situation in the way they did.

"People can talk over each other on radios and there can be confusion, so the police response - I think - was terrific," he said.

"And thank God it was what it was. You've only got to look at the experience that a very professional police service had in London when a young Brazilian was tragically shot by anti-terrorism forces."

"So I think the police are to be commended with the professional way that they did identify the incursion, the restraint that they showed in handling it and the fact that what we're talking about today is a bad and irresponsible joke, instead of a more tragic set of circumstances."

The show's executive producer Morrow denied placing anyone in danger.

"Was it irresponsible? I wouldn't think so. Hard to say," he said.

"No, no. We had no intention of harming anyone. Sorry guys ... Lucky it was us and not Al Qaeda."