The man who brought a private prosecution against ACT leader
John Banks intends to file a single representative charge of
manslaughter against former Pike River Coal boss Peter
It comes a day after all 12 charges against Mr Whittall in
relation to the 2010 mine disaster were dropped by the Crown.
The main platform would be the failure to check for gas
levels in the mine, Graham McCready said. "He was in charge
when 29 people died."
Mr McCready said there were two matters which needed to be
addressed before he proceeded with lodging a private
prosecution - a $1000 filing fee for which he is seeking
public donations; and making contact with the families of the
29 men who died in the mine explosion to discuss what they
wanted to do.
When asked if others could be charged, he said he would start
with Mr Whittall.
A lawyer who acts for the Pike River families said further
prosecution against Mr Whittall is unrealistic.
Nicholas Davidson, QC, who represented the families at the
Royal Commission of Inquiry and has continued to act for some
of them on a pro bono basis, said it was unlikely the
families could take any further action against Mr Whittall.
"There's no suggestion of [a private prosecution being
launched] and, realistically, there's no funding for such a
thing. There are enormous complexities around it - a private
prosecution in the case of a regulatory offence like this may
not be available at all."
Mr Whittall has asked for the $3.41 million which was set
aside for his defence to be split among the families of the
29 men who died and the two survivors from the Pike River
disaster - amounting to $110,000 per family.
Prime Minister John Key said when he first heard about the
payment he thought it didn't look terribly good.
"But ... I guess the decision that the regulator has made and
the judge has made, is that's the appropriate next step," he
"I mean no amount of money, whether it's the tens of millions
of dollars of ACC payments or the essential compensation
that's gone through this clause, or the money that was raised
by New Zealanders through the trust funds that were
established, will ever bring back those brave men.
Mr Key said the families of the men would be "extremely
disappointed" by the court's decision, but going through a
long court process, which could take years, to end up with Mr
Whittall being found not guilty would be even more
He said there was "fundamentally nothing that I can do.
It's quite inappropriate for me to try and jump into
something the prosecution, a judge and independent regulator
have decided wouldn't be successful."
Mr McCready said no criminal proceedings would be filed until
the families had received the payout, as there could be a
condition on the payment that precludes a payment if the
families filed any charges.
The Council of Trade Unions is also considering legal action,
possibly a judicial review.
President Helen Kelly told Radio New Zealand this morning
they wanted the Government to release all documents, which
would allow them to see what had happened, including the role
the offer of compensation had played in the decision to drop
Mr Key said a judicial review of the decision would be
Mr Whittall's lawyer Stacey Shortall confirmed he had been
out of work since he was made redundant from the coal company
two years ago and had had no luck finding work in the mining
- By Patrice Dougan, Matthew Theunissen and Laura