New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is accusing the Prime Minister of hypocrisy for suggesting that the Crown could consider civil action over the Pike River mine disaster.
Following Solid Energy's announcement yesterday that it would not be recovering the remains of the 29 men killed in November 2010, John Key said he would asked Crown Law to consider civil proceedings.
Mr Peters said the Prime Minister had clearly failed to take legal advice.
"He's holding out hope when there is none and, frankly, these sorts of insincere platitudes help no one."
Mr Peters said none of the victims' families have the right to sue because of ACC legislation, as was shown in the Panmure RSA case in which Tai Hobson failed in his bid to get punitive damages over the murder of his wife.
Mr Hobson's lawyer Brian Henry said any lawyer could have pointed Mr Key to that case, which showed it was not possible to get punitive damages in such cases.
"If he'd asked before hand he would have been told that it's a false hope he's giving people. There is no basis for the families to sue for the loss of the loved in New Zealand law, it is totally prohibited by statute."
Lawyer Jeff Sissons, who was acting for two family members in their bid to have former Pike River mine boss Peter Whittall charged, said Mr Key's comments were ironic in light of the fact that Crown Law had been fighting them every step of the way.