27 Oct 2012

Pike managers lose bid over inquiry

5:14 pm on 27 October 2012

Lawyers representing six former directors and managers at the Pike River mine say they are still considering the failure of their application to have the Royal Commission into the disaster reconvened.

Twenty-nine men died in a series of explosions at the West Coast mine in November 2010.

The lawyers wanted to cross-examine three witnesses who came forward after the commission finished hearing evidence.

They also wanted parts of the commission's findings suppressed, in case they prevented a fair trial for former chief executive Peter Whittall on health and safety charges he faces in relation to the disaster.

In a judgment on Tuesday, Justice Young said the lawyers had already had an opportunity to respond to the new evidence through written submissions, and there is no reason to reconvene.

He said it is up to the Government, not the commission, to decide if parts of the final report are suppressed.

The judge also noted the commission has given all parties subject to adverse comment the right to respond ahead of the findings being published.

The lawyers taking the action - including Mr Whittall's lawyer, Stuart Grieve - say they are considering the most appropriate way forward in light of the decision, and want to ensure the commission's findings are based on fairly tested evidence.

The lawyer representing the miners' union at the Royal Commission says while an application can be made to the Government, he would be surprised if the Government agreed.