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Government wrong to withdraw charges against Whittal

Government wrong to withdraw charges against Whittal

The decision by MBIE to withdraw charges against Peter Whittal today is wrong on many levels, says CTU President Helen Kelly.

“The Department, in this Court case, represents the men killed in that mine. They hold sole discretion to press charges and ensure these men get some form of justice - the decision today adds to the failure of this Department in their duty to the 29 people killed at Pike.”

“This decision will suit everyone but these men and their families. The Cabinet decision not to pay the compensation left the opening for the insurers to slip into and offer compensation to these vulnerable families instead of face the law. The Cabinet can go on Christmas holidays without the scrutiny of Parliament of its role in this decision. The Department can be happy that its role will not be further scrutinised during a trial. All of this leaves the question of who will ensure these men get the justice they deserve?”

“It is insufficient for the Department to say the charges could not be successfully proven. The Royal Commission of Inquiry extensively documents the areas where Mr Whittal, in his CEO role, did not take all practicable steps to keep the men safe, and if it is correct that the charges could not have been proven there must have been errors in the range of charges laid. The timing of the decision and the lack of time for other parties to investigate the legitimacy of this proposition before charges were withdrawn suggests the Department did not want scrutiny of this decision,” said Helen Kelly.

The CTU and its affiliate the EPMU will consider whether this decision is right in law in all the circumstances of the deal. Today is one of the darkest days in this Pike River Story.

ENDS

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