8 Aug 2016

Pike River families want mine's CEO to face charges

From Checkpoint, 5:18 pm on 8 August 2016

Two women whose relatives died in the Pike River Mine disaster are heading to the Court of Appeal in an attempt to hold someone to account for the deaths of 29 men.

Sonya Rockhouse lost her son, Ben, and Anna Osborne lost her husband, Milton, after a series of explosions at the West Coast coal mine in 2010.

They are appealing after the High Court turned down their application to review the decision to drop charges against the mine's former chief executive, Peter Whittall.

Mr Whittall faced a raft of health and safety charges relating to the explosions, but the prosecution was dropped after an insurance payment of more than $3 million to the 29 victims' families.

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment had determined that the "public interest was not met by continuing with a long costly trial and a low probability of success".

Ms Rockhouse told Checkpoint with John Campbell that even to try and fail would be better than being denied the chance to try at all.

"To fight and lose, I think we could accept. But not to fight, and not have anything happen, that I can't accept. So, for us, we will just continue fighting until we get something."

The pair's lawyer, Nigel Hampton QC, will make submissions on their behalf tomorrow.