Corporate manslaughter law change weighed

TRACY WATKINS
Last updated 16:39 26/03/2013

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Building and Construction Minister Maurice Williamson may pursue a law change allowing corporate manslaughter charges in cases like the CTV building collapse.

Williamson hit out today at the inability of professional engineering bodies to act against members who were involved in the building's construction.

"It has to be... that someone is held to account," Williamson said.

"I've said all along I don't believe 115 people can lose their life in a building that pancakes, that should never have been built, that should never have been consented and there is no one held to account."

Police could still lay charges after an investigation following the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission finding of design and construction deficiencies in the CTV building, which collapsed in the February 22 earthquake, killing 115 people. But Williamson said current gaps in the law were a concern.

"I would have thought something  that gives (authorities) the power to instigate something like criminal manslaughter, to corporate manslaughter. That's happened before with a number of small incidents, like cool store fires and other things, so I wouldn't rule out giving them some of those powers. "

Those powers would not be retrospective, however, so it would not help in the case of the CTV collapse.

But it would be "just ghastly" to move on without anyone being held to account.

"You walk down a 737 aisle in the morning and see 115 people sitting there and you think 'wow'. And that's how many people died... that building was built illegally, it didn't meet all the specs of the day, it didn't meet code."

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