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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

No manslaughter charges for Pike River explosion

No manslaughter charges for Pike River explosion
Article Type:
Publication Date:
New Zealand

The New Zealand Police has announced that no criminal charges will be laid following its investigation into the explosion at the Pike River Mine.

The investigation looked at whether criminal liability could be attributed to any individual involved in the management of Pike River Coal. The potential criminal charges were criminal nuisance or manslaughter.

Although there were widespread departures from accepted standards of mine operations, the police determined that there was insufficient evidence to support the laying of manslaughter charges. "The lack of any causative link to the specific events which led to the explosion means a manslaughter prosecution of any individual does not meet the standard of evidential sufficiency," says the police in its news release.

According to the police, there is enough evidence to support a charge of criminal nuisance, but this would raise issues of double jeopardy with the ongoing Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment prosecutions under health and safety law.

The police says there is also the potential for a criminal nuisance charge to adversely impact on the MBIE court process and that any penalty for criminal nuisance is unlikely to be greater than those imposed for offences under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

"This has been a very difficult decision and not one taken lightly" said detective superintendent Peter Read, who led the inquiry team.

"However at this time police believe this matter is most appropriately dealt with through the health and safety prosecutions led by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment."

Responding to the news, Labour MP Andrew Little called for the introduction of a corporate manslaughter law.

"The benefit of a dedicated law on corporate manslaughter is that the police wouldn't have to tie the cause of the deaths to the specific actions of individual people but could look at aggregate failures by a number of people to make a charge stick," said Little, who has a corporate manslaughter Bill in the ballot for parliamentary member's Bills.

"The charge of corporate manslaughter focuses on a high level of negligence at the board and senior management level and means failures in corporate culture can be called to account."

People Mentioned:
Peter Read; Andrew Little
Organisations Mentioned:
New Zealand Police; Pike River Coal; Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment; Labour
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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