Former Pike River boss breaks silence
Pike River mine disaster
The man who refused to testify at the Pike River royal commission has broken his silence.
Former Pike River Coal chief executive Gordon Ward, who was involved with the mine for 12 years, declined to be a witness at the inquiry into the fatal explosion and, until last night, had not spoken publicly about the tragedy.
For the first time since the explosion that killed 29 men in November 2010, Ward expressed condolences to the families.
After a TVNZ Sunday reporter approached him in Australia last week, Ward said he was "prepared to say a couple of things since you've gone to the effort to track me down".
He said he had "co-operated fully" with the Labour Department and the police but they had "not pressed any charges against me".
Ward refused to comment about not giving evidence but expressed sympathy to "all the people affected by the disaster".
He was chief executive of Pike River from May 2007 until six weeks before the fatal 2010 explosion. He was asked to give evidence or provide a written statement for the commission but declined to do either.
A commission spokeswoman said in December that Ward could not be forced to give evidence because compulsion orders did not apply overseas.
Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn accused Ward of "not having the guts to stand up and come back" to provide answers to grieving families. He said Ward's remorse was too late.
"I think the police have to have a really hard look at Gordon Ward," Kokshoorn said.
- © Fairfax NZ News