Pike River mine disaster
A lawyer for former Pike River chief executive Peter Whittall says parts of the commission of inquiry report may have to be suppressed to preserve "fair trial rights".
The commission is due to report by November 30.
Whittall faces Labour Department charges and police are yet to decide whether to lay any criminal charges over the mine explosion that killed 29 men in November, 2010.
In the High Court at Wellington today Stuart Grieve, QC, the lawyer for Whittall and five other managers and directors, said there was potential for Whitthall to be prejudiced in other proceedings if adverse findings made against him were published.
Depending on what the findings are there could applications to suppress commission findings until other hearings were dealt with, Grieve said.
Grieve wants the commission to disclose its report before it is made public, or a draft of it, so the parties could decide what if any action could be taken to suppress parts seen as prejudicial.
The commission has said that under its terms of reference it cannot release a draft or interim report.
The judge at today's hearing, Justice Ron Young said it would be "pretty unattractive" to suppress part of a commission of inquiry report for what could be years.
Grieve and other lawyers from the Pike River inquiry were also in the High Court because Grieve's clients want the commission of inquiry to reconvene public hearings.
Since hearings finished in April a lawyer assisting the commission obtained witness statements from former Pike River technical services manager Udo Renk and middle managers Terry Moynihan and Greg Borichevsky.
Grieve said the evidence was about various facets of the mine's operation and contained detail critical of his six clients generally and specifically.
He said the group he represented wanted the commission to resume the hearing so the new evidence could be challenged through cross-examination or evidence called to respond to it.
The commission has declined to resume public hearings.
If the commission is going to make adverse findings against them they want to be told and given the chance to comment, Grieve said.
He is representing Whittall, former Pike River board chairman John Dow, directors Ray Meyer and Stu Nattrass, and managers Stephen Ellis and Robb Ridl.
The High Court hearing is continuing.
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