Lay charges, families say

Last updated 08:17 06/11/2012
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The families of the 29 men who died in the Pike River disaster want criminal charges laid after a damning report into the failings at the mine.

Bernie Monk, a spokesman for most of the 29 dead men's families, welcomed the Government's plans to consider introducing corporate manslaughter charges.

They had been assured yesterday at a briefing on the royal commission's report that such a move would be considered, he said.

Monk, whose son, Michael, died in the blast, said the report held no surprises.

"It's a moving on for me. I think this is what I've been waiting for."

He welcomed assurances that a government representative would talk to families within the next two weeks about plans to re-enter the mine.

His daughter, Olivia Monk, said the fight for justice for the dead men was "not over yet".

She was pleased the report acknowledged failures that led to the disaster and that the deaths were "avoidable".

However, there was "more to be done", she said.

The next step was to get into the mine, gather evidence and find out "who is to blame".

"We've been fighting to get these boys justice. It's 29 lives. It's not over yet. They're still not home," Olivia Monk said.

Lynne Sims, who lost her son, Blair, said the report was "very damning" and "very thorough".

She expected changes recommended to happen quickly, possibly even before Christmas.

Carol Rose, whose son, Stuart Mudge, was killed, said she trusted the Government would act "as soon as possible".

The inclusion of check inspectors in mines was the most important of the recommendations.

She hoped there would be "some sort of charge" down the track, but that was "a whole other issue".

Neville Rockhouse, whose son, Ben, 21, died in the mine and a second son, Daniel, then 24, was one of two blast survivors, called the report "huge" and said it would affect health and safety for all industries New Zealand-wide.

"They have left no rock unturned."

Rockhouse, the mine's former safety and training manager, said the Government had assured families the report recommendations would be fully implemented by the end of 2013.

Nicholas Davidson QC, lawyer for the families, said they were surprised to see how poorly the country compared internationally for mining safety.

The failure of anyone to act on explosive levels of methane was "inconceivable", he said. Fairfax NZ

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