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Judge dismisses bid to re-open Pike hearing

Published: 12:33PM Tuesday September 18, 2012 Source: ONE News

A High Court judge has thrown out a bid by former Pike River bosses for the Royal Commission to re-open its public hearings into mine explosions which killed 29 miners in November 2010.

Justice Ronald Young has dismissed an application brought by the lawyers for mine boss Peter Whittall, and other directors, who sought to have the Pike River Royal Commission reconvene so written evidence from three former Pike workers could be presented in person, and so the lawyers could have an opportunity to cross-examine them.

The men also wanted the Commission's report into the mine disaster held back from publication until they had reviewed it.

In a decision released today, Young dismissed the applications saying that the Commission had not breached natural justice, and that the publication of the report was a matter for the Government not the Commission.

"The actions of the Commission as set out in the minutes of the Commission after 4 April 2012 establishes that the applicants were aware of all evidence filed with the Commission after 4 April 2012 and were provided with a fair opportunity to respond to that evidence," he said in the decision.

"The Commission have said they will (and have) before the release of their report, provide an opportunity to respond to any proposed adverse comment."

The six applicants include Whittall, former Pike River Coal board chairman John Dow, former directors Raymond Meyer and Stuart Natrass, and former managers Stephen Ellis and Rob Ridl.

Whittall is yet to plead on a raft of charges for allegedly failing to ensure worker safety at the mine.

The Commission was last month given a two-month extension to deliver its report. It will now report back to the Governor-General by November 30.