Whittall unwanted post-Pike

DEIDRE MUSSEN
Last updated 05:00 13/12/2013
Peter Whittall
IAN MACGREGOR
COAL-SHOULDERED: Pike River Coal Ltd’s former chief executive Peter Whittall has not worked since he was made redundant from the coal mine

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Peter Whittall hasn't worked since he was made redundant more than two years ago from Pike River coalmine.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment yesterday ditched all 12 health and safety charges against Pike River Coal Ltd's former chief executive, admitting it had a poor chance of successfully prosecuting him.

"He hasn't worked at all since he was made redundant," his lawyer, Stacey Shortall, said yesterday.

The now-51-year old Australian with three decades of mining experience moved to New Zealand in 2005 but had lived in Wellington since January 2010.

After the fatal November 2010 blast that killed 29 men in the underground West Coast coalmine, he continued as chief executive for the mine's receivers but lost his job at the end of November 2011, three weeks after he was charged.

A month before that he set up a mining consultancy company, called Peter Whittall and Associates, which attracted much public criticism at the time.

Shortall said her client had tried to get work through his company but was unsuccessful.

He also had the possibility of facing a lengthy trial early next year, which had been predicted to take up to four months, which hampered his work opportunities.

"I think that the prosecution hanging over him has been a very long shadow, and it has meant his ability to work has been very, very limited."

Shortall was hesitant to comment on how Whittall had coped since he was charged but said it had been "very hard".

Whittall has offered to privately meet Pike families in Greymouth next week, along with at least three former Pike directors.

Yesterday, Pike families threatened civil action after the charges were dropped.

It was not yet known whether they would agree to a restorative justice meeting with Whittall.

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- The Press

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