Chaser APEC Security Breach Prank Update

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Filed under: Pranksters, Satire

Chaser tests police patience again
September 7, 2007

20061211adf8161479__085.jpgMembers of ABC TV’s The Chaser team have been questioned after another APEC stunt, just hours after security officials warned their pranks could result in someone being shot.

As authorities fumed over Thursday’s fake motorcade, three more of The Chaser team were quizzed by police in Sydney before being released without charge.

Craig Reucassel, Chris Taylor and Dominic Knight on Friday dressed up in black cardboard boxes shaped like limousines, complete with Canadian flags on the front and paper plates as wheels.

Their action was a send-up of Thursday’s stunt, in which 11 Chaser members were charged after driving real vehicles – decked out to resemble a Canadian motorcade – through APEC security checkpoints.

They got within metres of US President George W Bush’s Sydney hotel before being stopped.

Embarrassingly for those responsible for protecting the 21 world leaders attending the APEC gathering, The Chaser antics earned worldwide media coverage.

Some American TV newsreaders raised their eyebrows at the motorcade story, while others laughed at the prank in which Chaser member Chas Licciardello jumped out of a Canadian-flagged “fauxtorcade” dressed as Osama bin Laden.

“A prank by a TV comedy crew has turned into an international incident and it could end up making a laughing stock of the entire (APEC) security machine,” said a straight-faced Phillip Palmer, a newsreader on America’s ABC TV network.

“$US160 million was spent to keep dignitaries safe, and a convoy of actors got within yards of President Bush’s hotel.”

CNN, FOX News, NBC and CBS also carried stories showing footage of The Chaser members being arrested.

News website USA Today trumpeted: “Security isn’t as tight as you’d think in Sydney.”

In Canada, The Vancouver Sun newspaper saw the funny side, despite the fact that The Chaser team posed as Canadian officials.

“Aussie spoofsters fly Maple Leaf to undress APEC security,” was the headline in the Sun.

Eleven members of The Chaser’s War on Everything team were charged on Thursday with entering a declared area without justification. Police are considering further charges.

Chaser stars Licciardello and Julian Morrow, along with nine others, including production crew and hire car drivers, could face a maximum six months’ jail if convicted.

After Friday’s effort, Reucassel said police allowed the three questioned to go free after determining no laws had been broken.

“The police basically just detained us and checked whether we’d breached any laws, which we hadn’t and we’re on our way,” he told ABC Radio.

Taylor added: “It was good. We didn’t do anything wrong at all. We were very careful to stay within the letter of the law and I think the police realised that, so yeah, it was fine.”

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione was among those who failed to see the funny side of their first stunt, saying they could have got themselves shot by snipers.

“I’m angry, I’m very angry that this stunt happened, it was a very dangerous stunt,” Mr Scipione said.

“The reality is … (they) put security services in a position where they might have had to take an action no one would want.”

Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd was also concerned Thursday’s stunt could have ended in tragedy.

“I would very much hate for there to be any injuries, let alone fatalities, occurring because people were trying to push the security margins for entertainment purposes,” Mr Rudd told Southern Cross Broadcasting.

NSW Premier Morris Iemma was also unimpressed: “We all enjoy The Chaser program but what happened was not a joke, it is serious, and we would all have preferred it did not happen.”

Security expert Neil Fergus said Thursday’s prank had embarrassed authorities, even though the comedians did not breach the “inner sanctum”.

“The only thing they posed a risk to, ultimately, is our senses of humour,” he said.

ABC Television on Thursday night said The Chaser team had no intention of entering a restricted zone, but had been waved through by police and turned around once they realised where they were.

Morrow denied the stunt was irresponsible and a danger to public safety.

“I wouldn’t think so. Hard to say … lucky it was us and not al-Qaeda,” he told ABC Television.

Confiscated material, including mobile phones, camera and sound equipment was returned by police on Friday, The Chaser’s producers said in a statement.

The footage is likely be returned by police in time for Wednesday’s show.


Related Link: Bush APEC Security Breached