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Documents show Whittall offered cash in dodgy deal

Andrew LITTLE

Justice  Spokesperson

27 February  2014             MEDIA STATEMENT

Documents show Whittall offered cash in dodgy deal

The Government must come clean over the deal that saw Peter Whittall avoid trial over the Pike River mine deaths after new documents show he offered $3.41 million in exchange for the charges being dropped, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says.

Labour has obtained under the Official Information Act a letter from Peter Whittall’s lawyer Stuart Grieve QC which has been sanitised for public release.

“The public will be deeply concerned to learn that such a deal was offered last October, nearly two months before the former Department of Labour, now WorkSafe, went to court.

“There has been speculation about a backroom deal ever since the charges against Peter Whittall were dropped. Now this letter confirms those fears.

“What hasn’t been explained is why the charges against Peter Whittall were discharged, not withdrawn, meaning he can never face any charge associated with the Pike River deaths.

“My hunch is the original letter contains a lot more and sets out the real deal. We need to know what that was.

“The letter from Peter Whittall’s lawyer also claims the defendant would have a good defence which would focus on the role of the Department of Labour’s mine inspectors.

“It is also clear from the letter that the voluntary payment was only viable if the Ministry didn’t proceed with the charges.

“In a letter to Labour, Worksafe said there was no backroom deal between the defence and prosecution. Although they admit the letter could lead to further suggestions there was one.

“However the deal offered by Peter Whittall’s lawyer became a reality. This dodgy deal prevented the Pike River families seeing anyone held to account,” Andrew Little says.

1400051OIAPikeSIGNED_2.pdf

1400051OIAPikeRELEASE_2.pdf

ENDS

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