30 Nov 2017

'There's no justice in this world'

6:23 pm on 30 November 2017

Survivors of the CTV collapse and family members of those who lost their lives have called for a law change to cover corporate manslaughter.

Rescue workers outside the Christchurch CTV building in 2011. (Picture downloaded 29.9.2017)

Rescue workers outside the Christchurch CTV building in 2011. Photo: AFP / USAR

A Royal Commission concluded the CTV building should never have been built.

Police announced this afternoon there was insufficient evidence for criminal charges to be laid over the collapse of Christchurch's CTV building.

The six-storey office block was flattened in seconds during the major February earthquake in 2011, killing 115 people.

New Zealand does not have a corporate manslaughter law, although there have been moves in the past to amend the Crimes Act and today Justice Minister Andrew Little said he wanted to consider introducing a charge in the future.

Japanese rescuers walk past the smoking ruins of the CTV building.

Photo: AFP

David Beaumont, who lost his 31-year-old son Matty in the building collapse, said he was personally quite pleased with the decision not to prosecute.

"I am quite pleased there's no prosecution taking place ... because I believe too many people were involved and the police were directing their efforts at certain individuals but not along the line," he said.

"I believe there were so many people involved in this that made mistakes, from the designer right through to city council, everybody made a mistake all along the way, the builders and everything, so picking somebody out would have been so unfair, I believe."

He said the building design was such that anybody building it would have known it lacked structural strength.

"The city council approved it. The people who built it must have wondered what on earth they were building, as well."

Applying the law was extremely difficult, he said.

"You've got to go and find the people who caused the process ... and that's extremely difficult.

"It's the law that's at fault really.

"The thing I'd most like to see happen is that there's proper laws, complete revision of the laws covering criminal neglect and manslaughter because these laws at the moment you would never ever get a prosecution."

A picture shows the damaged CTV building in the central business district in Christchurch on February 23, 2011.

A picture shows the damaged CTV building in the central business district in Christchurch on February 23, 2011. Photo: AFP

Richard Austin lost his wife Susan Selway, a clinical psychologist who was at work on the fourth floor of the CTV building.

He said he was disappointed because families felt there would be some accountability.

"I think it is significant that the police did identify that there were significant issues with the building but the threshold to bring a prosecution couldn't be reached. So, it's not a yes or no decision.

"We do have to abide by the investigation which I'm very satisfied was thorough. So, yeah, mixed emotions."

Survivor Maryanne Jackson, who was the CTV receptionist, said she was devastated. She said she had hoped for a prosecution against Alan Reay - the design firm's principal. She lost 16 friends and colleagues in the collapse.

"Alan Reay, he's meant to be a doctor of engineering and he didn't oversee him [structural engineer David Harding], he just left him to his own devices.

"I think they need to pass a law in New Zealand for corporate manslaughter.

"It's very sad, there's no justice in this world."

Rescuers stand at the smoking ruins of the CTV building.

Photo: Marty Melville / AFP

Tim Elms, whose daughter Teresa McLean was among the CTV victims, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the police decision.

Speaking to RNZ by the CTV site in central Christchurch, Mr Elms said police were also disappointed by the outcome.

He said he was called by Detective Superintendent Peter Read with the decision this morning.

Mr Elms said he understood that the Crown's legal advice was that getting a conviction was unlikely.

Legal advice the families have received also indicated a conviction would be difficult, he said.

"In a way I'm glad this is over. This is another part of what's been a tough seven years, a major part of it's over.

"People always say 'you'll get closure' but you don't."

Mr Elms said his daughter was one of life's real triers.

At the time of her death she had two young sons and he said she was exactly where she wanted to be in her life.

"She had a new house in Kaiapoi, everything was going lovely for her. She had the job here, and then bang, it was all over."

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs