Mine bosses reject charge that safety of staff was neglected

By Kate Shuttleworth

Peter Whittall. Photo / APN
Peter Whittall. Photo / APN

Former Pike River Coal boss Peter Whittall and three board members say they do not consider some of the Royal Commission report's findings justified on the evidence.

Their lawyer, Stacey Shortall, said Mr Whittall and board members John Dow, Ray Meyer and Stuart Nattrass had willingly assisted the commission, unlike others in senior management roles at the firm.

But Mr Dow, Mr Meyer and Mr Nattrass disagreed with any suggestion the board did not act appropriately on health and safety.

"They note that there has been much comment with the convenient benefit of hindsight about matters.

"Our clients participated in the inquiry knowing that this was likely to result in their own actions being subject to greater scrutiny than would have been the case had they not become involved.

"They did so because they believed that they had a moral obligation to provide what information they could to (prevent) future mining tragedies."

The commission found the directors did not properly assess the risks to workers. It said the mine was used before its health and safety systems were adequate, with warnings of explosive methane levels ignored.

Unions welcomed the report, with EPMU assistant national secretary Ged O'Connell saying it should mark a turning point for mine safety.

"If the 29 men who lie in the mine are not to have died in vain then these recommendations must be implemented without delay and without reservation."

- APNZ

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