Prime Minister John Key says the case against former Pike
River Coal boss Peter Whittall could have been costly and
heartbreaking, and compensation for the families is the best
His comments this morning come after all 12 charges against
Mr Whittall were dropped last week.
The charges had been brought by the Ministry of Business,
Innovation and Employment (MBIE) following the 2010 mine
disaster in which 29 men died.
Mr Key told Newstalk ZB the MBIE was totally independent of
"And if the Government started getting involved, it would be
like a police state. But as I understand it, the regulator -
and that was confirmed by the judge on the day - just didn't
believe that they would actually get a successful
"So if they'd gone through all that process, spent millions
and millions of dollars and then broken the hearts of the
families by not getting a conviction in the end, I'm not sure
that would have been satisfactory."
Last week, families of the Pike River victims and two
survivors learned they would receive $110,000 each in
compensation, to be paid from the $3.41 million set aside for
Mr Whittall's defence.
"So in the end, at least there's financial compensation now
being paid to the families. And unfortunately, as it's
currently structured, that's the best we can do," Mr Key
A lot had happened since the Pike River disaster, including a
"massive rewrite" of health and safety workplace legislation,
The Government was also introducing a new law next year that
would make company directors and employers potentially
liable, with penalties including imprisonment.
Last week, the man who brought a private prosecution against
Act Party leader John Banks said he intended to file a single
representative charge of manslaughter against Mr Whittall,
and he was seeking public donations towards the $1000 filing
fee for bringing the private prosecution, the main platform
for which would be the failure to check for gas levels in the
Graham McCready told Radio New Zealand this morning he now
plans to file a single representative charge with one named
victim, which will cost $30.
He will consider the victims' families before filing the
"I don't really have to have their permission but it really
needs their cooperation, and I simply don't want to add to
the misery by picking somebody that in fact doesn't want to
be named at all."