14 Mar 2013

Former Pike River boss wants trial shifted

7:45 pm on 14 March 2013

Lawyers for former Pike River Coal boss Peter Whittall have asked the Greymouth District Court to move his upcoming trial to Wellington.

Peter Whittall faces 12 charges under the Health and Safety Act arising from the Pike River mine disaster two years ago.

One of his lawyers, Stuart Grieve, told the court there are 660,000 documents being dealt with and holding the trial in Greymouth would be logistically difficult.

He also said it could also be difficult for some of the international witnesses to travel to Greymouth and Mr Whittall's right to a fair trial could be prejudiced by verbal harassment he might receive from members of the public there.

However, the lawyer for the former Department of Labour, Brent Stanaway, said the trial should be held in Greymouth because of the intense public interest there.

He told the court Mr Whittall could also be subject to the same harassment in Wellington.

Bernie Monk a spokesperson for some of the families of the Pike River mining victims says they do not support moving his trial to Wellington.

He says moving the trial would limit the ability of many families to attend.

Mr Monk says live-streaming of the trial would not be good enough for the families and the thought that it may be shifted is a very sore point.

Judge Farish has reserved her decision until 22 May.