Commission warns of drawn-out Pike inquiry

PHASE three of the Royal Commission into the Pike River mine disaster will be spread out over three months to avoid interfering with possible criminal prosecutions stemming from the disaster.
Commission warns of drawn-out Pike inquiry Commission warns of drawn-out Pike inquiry Commission warns of drawn-out Pike inquiry Commission warns of drawn-out Pike inquiry Commission warns of drawn-out Pike inquiry

Underground at the Pike River mine months before tragedy struck in November, 2010. Image courtesy of PRC.

Lauren Barrett

The third phase of the inquiry will begin on November 14 while the final date for the inquiry has been set for February 17 next year.

Phase two of the inquiry spanned three consecutive weeks ending on September 23.

The Royal Commission said the extended third phase of the inquiry was made with a “number of considerations in mind”

One reason was that the Department of Labour’s final decision on whether or not to prosecute was due to be made on November 19.

The first week of phase three of the inquiry is scheduled to run from November 14-18 so as to not impact the DOL.

The Royal Commission said it would arrange its witness list for week two of the inquiry, which is set for November 21 to 25, for people who are not at risk of prosecution.

“Participants who hold concerns may elect not to file evidence until the DOL decisions are known,” it said in a statement.

Earlier in the year it was unknown if the inquiry would interfere with prosecutions as the decision about a prosecution was initially scheduled to be made in August.

Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union national secretary Andrew Little told ILN in April that prosecutions could hold up the inquiry for more than two years.

“It would mean that the Royal Commission would then have to basically be delayed until all the criminal prosecutions are dealt with,” he said.

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