CTU supports Pike families’ application for judicial review
The Council of Trade Unions is supporting the application filed by two of the Pike families to review the decision not to continue the prosecution against Pike River Mine CEO Peter Whittall.
“It is our view that when 29 men are killed in the circumstances uncovered at Pike River, the accountability for those deaths is a matter of high public interest,” CTU President, Helen Kelly said. “For the Crown and Court to be swayed in the way they were, by an offer to pay insurance money in exchange for a discharge of the charges is against the interest of all New Zealand workers and their families in the fight for improved health and safety in New Zealand workplaces and was grossly unfair to those miners killed and their families.”
The Application filed yesterday on behalf of Anna Osborne (wife of contractor Milton Osborne) and Sonya Rockhouse (mother of miner Ben Rockhouse) challenges the action of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (the regulator at the time) for amongst other things, failing to follow its own prosecutorial guidelines including improperly giving weight to an offer by Mr Whittall to pay 3.41 million dollars in return for the Ministry offering no evidence in support of the charges against him, and in considering that to continue with the charges against Mr Whittall in light of a financial offer would be against the public interest. They also seek a review of the action of the District Court for amongst other things, making the decision to discharge with the knowledge that the money offered by Mr Whittall’s insurers, would only be paid if no evidence was offered in support of the charges and the charges were dismissed. They are claiming that the District Court judge had previously recused herself from the case when she purported to make the decision.
The proceedings were filed in the High Court of Wellington yesterday and are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on 6 October this year.