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Pike River families denied justice - again

Pike River families denied justice - again

New Zealanders will be appalled that once again the families of the Pike River victims have been denied justice, Labour’s MP for West-Coast Tasman Damien O’Connor says.

“It is disappointing the Crown has dropped 12 charges against former Pike River Mine chief executive Peter Whittall because it believes a successful prosecution is unlikely.

“The cost of a Wellington-based trial should not have been a factor in a hearing that would have brought some closure to the 29 families.

“While Labour is pleased the families will receive their $3.4 million compensation after Mr Whittall and other Pike River directors and officers offered to make a voluntary payment, it was never about the money.

“The families have said they want justice more than money and this tragedy will have no end until justice is seen to be done. This looks like a closed-door deal which again denies the grieving families justice and it is understandable they are furious with what looks like a stitch-up.

“The Government department knows full well any trial will further scrutinise the list of failings that contributed to this disaster.

Labour’s Justice and Labour spokesperson Andrew Little says this decision exposes the inadequacies of the law around corporate liability.

“It should be the courts that decide whether a person has broken the law, not some backroom deal between lawyers.

“It beggars belief that 29 men are lying dead in a coal mine which the Royal Commission found was the subject of some of this country’s worst health and safety failures, and not a single person has been called to account.

“If New Zealand had a corporate manslaughter law, along the lines of my bill, it would mean the failures of the company could be sheeted home to directors and senior managers,” Andrew Little says.

ends

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