WorkSafe New Zealand has dropped all charges and appeals against former Pike River coal mine head Peter Whitall after his insurer paid survivors and the victims’ families.
The decision brings to an end more than half a decade of legal action, following the Pike River coal mine disaster in 2010, which saw the loss of 29 lives.
Whitall previously faced the court over 12 charges including allegations he failed is his duty of care to protect workers from harm relating to methane, of poor ventilation management, and failure to mitigate explosion risk and impacts.
At the time, Greymouth mayor Tony Kokshoorn stated that “there was a duty of care to ensure safety here and someone’s got to be accountable so this sort of thing doesn’t occur in the future”.
Whitall believed that in the search to find someone accountable he was made a scapegoat for the incident, as he was the only individual to face charges.
Now the case has been dropped, according to Stuff.co.nz
As part of the agreement to cease the case, Whitall’s insurer paid NZ$3.41 million to the families of the victims, as well as the two survivors.
Whitall had pled not guilty, and planned to fight the charges, and according to Stuff the money pledged would have most likely been spent on his defence.
The decision to drop the charges and take compensation reportedly did not include consultation with the victims’ families or survivors.