Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

CTV families split over charges

The rubble of the CTV Building on the evening of the February 22 Christchurch earthquake. Photo / Mark Mitchell
The rubble of the CTV Building on the evening of the February 22 Christchurch earthquake. Photo / Mark Mitchell

High-profile Christchurch broadcaster Mike Yardley says bereaved families of those who lost their lives in the CTV building collapse are split over whether charges should be sought against any accountable parties.

The damning conclusions of a government report into the failure of the CTV Building which collapsed in the February 22 earthquake come as "no surprise", said the Newstalk ZB radio host and former CTV presenter.

Mr Yardley, who no longer works for CTV, said: "I've had some informal correspondence with family members and relatives over the last day or so, and the impression I've got is that for some families who lost loved ones in the building, they don't have any thirst for blood. The idea that someone could be criminally charged does not float their boat and they don't see any advantage in that.

"But for others however, there is a deep-seated belief that if there was gross negligence then those responsible must be held to account."

He said the report, which was released yesterday and revealed that the building failed to meet building standards when it was built in the 1980s, "confirms" doubts he and colleagues had over its safety in the months leading up to the killer quake.

A report commissioned by the Department of Building and Housing highlighted weaknesses in the concrete columns that supported the six-storey structure, as well as an asymmetrical layout of its shear walls.

It collapsed within seconds when the magnitude 6.3 quake hit on February 22, killing 115 people, including several of Mr Yardley's friends and colleagues.

He said: "This report confirms some of our own doubts we had over the structural integrity of the building and why it made such crazy noises and had that sense of fragility to it leading up to February 22."

While the report fails to attribute blame for the building's weaknesses, Mr Yardley hopes that if people are found to be accountable then they should face charges.

"I'm not surprised the report is so damning. I believe that if there is people to be held accountable, then that should happen," Mr Yardley told APNZ.

"I'm pleased the police have decided to instigate their own investigations so promptly. There seems to me to be two areas of investigation: whether there was gross negligence on the part of the building's engineers, and whether there was gross negligence on behalf of the city council by signing off those plans."

With the earthquake anniversary approaching, and the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the building's failure still to come, Mr Yardley said "closure" for many families was still "a fair way off."

However, the broadcaster said families should "take heart" from the comprehensive and prolonged investigations: "It's very dignified and very valuable."


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