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Swank goes bananas over fruit fine

Actress orders lawyers to fight $150 penalty in New Zealand
/ Source: The Associated Press

Hilary Swank, the Oscar-winning star of fight flick “Million Dollar Baby,” is going toe-to-toe with New Zealand authorities over a $150 fine for bringing fruit into the country, local media reported Sunday.

Swank was fined in January for failing to declare an apple and an orange in her luggage when she arrived at Auckland International Airport, The Sunday Star-Times newspaper reported.

“It’s a pretty standard practice to issue an instant fine for a biosecurity risk,” said Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry spokesman William Minchin.

Thousands of visitors arriving in New Zealand each year are fined on the spot for not declaring products like fruit, which cannot be imported into New Zealand, and hundreds contest the fines, Minchin said.

New Zealand is largely free of pests which cause billions of dollars in damage to crops and livestock in other parts of the world and has strict quarantine guidelines.

Swank has instructed lawyers to appear in court next week to contest the fine, the paper reported. It quoted Swank’s publicist, Troy Nankin, as saying “Oh, that was the apple in the purse incident,” and declining to elaborate.

Swank won Best Actress Oscars for her roles in the 1999 movie “Boys Don’t Cry” and Clint Eastwood-directed “Million Dollar Baby.”