Former Pike River CEO refuses to give evidence

 The former head of Pike River Coal has declined to give evidence to the ongoing Royal Commission.

Gordon Ward, who resigned just weeks before the explosion which killed 29 miners, has declined to file evidence or appear at the inquiry, 3News reports.

Ward reportedly led the Pike River coal mine from the development stage through to its second coal export shipment in September 2010.

Ruth Sullivan, who commented on the NZN story called for him to be brought to the inquiry.

"Surely this man should be a major part of the enquiry after all he was totally involved in the design, startup and development of Pike River – instead of crucifying Peter Whittall perhaps the focus should be on Gordon Ward? It seems extraordinary that he can just decline to appear."

Ward is currently working as the chief operating officer at the Queensland Coal Corporation, and the commission is unable to force people living overseas from appearing at the inquiry.

Pike River Coal’s former chair John Dow will instead be one of the witnesses called to give evidence over the next fortnight.

As the industry marks more than a year since the underground mine tragedy the remains of the workers have still not been found, and with the mine prepared for sale, the receivers say it may take years for them to be recovered – if at all.

The Royal Commission continues to conduct hearings as former Pike River CEO Peter Whittall and VLI Drilling appear in court over 25 health and safety charges over the incident. 


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