Pike River appeal dismissed

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 11:40 18/09/2012
ON THE STAND: Pike River Coal former chairman John Dow.
APPEAL: Pike River Coal former chairman John Dow.

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An appeal to reopen the Pike River royal commission so fresh evidence can be heard has been dismissed by the High Court.

Twenty-nine men were killed when the West Coast mine exploded on November 19, 2010.

An inquiry into the disaster looked at the causes of the tragedy, as well as the search and rescue operation that followed the explosions, existing relevant law and its administration and implementation.

A group of six former employees and board members, including chairman John Dow and chief executive Peter Whittall, lodged an application to Wellington's High Court, stating they believed new evidence filed to the commission after hearings ended in April should be publicly heard ''in the interests of fairness''.

Dow, Whittall, board members Ray Meyer and Stu Nattrass, and managers Stephen Ellis and Rob Ridl wanted the inquiry to reopen public hearings to hear the oral evidence and allow cross-examination of three former Pike River employees.

A lawyer assisting the inquiry had sought statements from the three - technical services manager Udo Renk and middle managers Terry Moynihan and Greg Borichevsky - after public hearings ended in April.

Justice Young dismissed the application in a decision released today, saying he was satisfied the applicants were informed of all evidence before the commission during the main inquiry and had had the opportunity to respond.

He noted the commission had said it would provide opportunity for the men to respond to any proposed adverse comment before the release of their report, which was due to be provided to the Governor-General by November 28.

Justice Young also said there was no reason to delay the release of the report.

''I am satisfied there is no reason based on prejudice to any fair trial rights of the applicants to delay release of the report nor any breach of natural justice requiring delay to the release of the report.''

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- The Press

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