Whittall told to fight back: report

FORMER Pike River Coal chief executive officer Peter Whittall’s lawyer says Whittall should defend himself by responding to harsh criticisms aired at the latest phase of the Royal Commission inquiry into the Pike River mine disaster.
Whittall told to fight back: report Whittall told to fight back: report Whittall told to fight back: report Whittall told to fight back: report Whittall told to fight back: report

Peter Whittall.

Lauren Barrett

Lawyer for Whittall, Stacey Shortall reportedly told The Press she would encourage Whittall to give a new written statement in response to scathing comments made by former Pike general manager Doug White at the third phase of the inquiry, which wrapped up last week.

The commission heard how White, three days before the tragic explosion, had sent a personal email stating Whittall was “still a dodgy git.”

In a police interview, following the explosion, White had labelled Whittall “overbearing” and “dictatorial”.

White told how he never recalled anyone standing up to Whittall despite him overseeing “so many stuff ups”

According to the news service, Shortall had initially advised Whittall against filing statements for the third phase of the inquiry “in light of the Department of Labour's charges and the extensive evidence he had already provided in writing and in appearing at the phase one and phase two hearings”

However Shortall is believed to have changed her mind due to Whittall’s absence at the latest phase of the inquiry in which he was unable to defend the damning evidence against him.

Shortall came to Whittall’s defence after the email remarks were revealed, and told the inquiry Whittall was “devastated” by the comments.

“You wouldn't be surprised that Mr Whittall vehemently denies all of your email comments about him being dodgy or lying or the other accusations you've made?” she continued.

“He may well do but he did lie,” White said at the time.

Whittall was charged by the Department of Labour with 12 criminal charges relating to the tragedy which resulted in the deaths of 29 men.

VLI Drilling and Pike River Coal are also being prosecuted for the November 2010 explosion.

The final phase of the inquiry will commence on April 2.