15 Feb 2012

Whittall was dodgy git and liar, inquiry told

3:32 pm on 15 February 2012

The Pike River Royal Commission has heard the company's chief executive Peter Whittall was described by a mine manager as dodgy and a liar.

Former manager Doug White is again being questioned at the inquiry in Greymouth into the disaster 14 months ago which killed 29 mine workers.

Mr White was asked about an email he sent to a friend in Australia on 16 November 2010 three days before the mine first exploded.

In the message Mr White says he is now the general manager of the mine after Peter Whittall (general manager prior to Mr White) ''did a number'' on the previous chief executive and is now the chief executive himself - ''and still a dodgy git.''

He wrote that he found it, ''very hard to work for someone who has made or overseen so many stuff ups and blames everyone else''. Followed by the comment, ''he tells lies too''.

Mr White said on Wednesday afternoon he could not remember what prompted the angry comment, but he knows he was angry Mr Whittall had not done his performance appraisal and that he had been accused of causing a sudden drop in the company's share price.

GM trusted electrical staff

Earlier Pike River Coal former general manager Doug White has told the Royal Commission he trusted his electrical staff to get the right equipment.

Earlier this week, an Australian consultant told the Commission parts of the power and ventilation system were untested and created a significant spark risk underground.

But on Wednesday morning, Mr White said that as mine manager he had to rely on his electrical engineers to purchase the best equipment.

He said he had no reason to question any purchase recommended by his engineers, nor to order any special risk assessment, because others had much more electrical knowledge than he did.