17 May 2011

Pike River workers hire top lawyers

9:54 am on 17 May 2011

Some former Pike River mine workers say they have hired top lawyers to represent them because they believe the company will try to blame them for the disaster.

Police and the Department of Labour are investigating the series of explosions at the mine that began on 19 November in which 29 men died. Royal Commission hearings are scheduled to begin in July.

George Colligan, who worked as a contractor and trained staff at the mine for almost a year, says he has done nothing wrong but believes the company's lawyers will seek to put the blame for what happened on him.

Mr Colligan says lawyer Greg King is representing him and four colleagues, because he says one-man operators are easily boxed into a corner.

The mine's former safety and training manager, Neville Rockhouse, has also hired a lawyer.

Mr Rockhouse, who lost a son in the tragedy, told Morning Report the only way to find out the truth behind what happened is to go back into the mine and investigate.

"To get to the truth, some reputations may need to be tarnished. I'm quite prepared to go through that process," he said.

"I don't actually think I've done anything wrong, and until we can get back in there and find out what has actually happened on 19 November 2010 then we're just never going to know," he said.