Thursday, February 27, 2014

A dirty deal

When the government dropped charges against former Pike River boss Peter Whittall over the Pike River mine explosion, they claimed that the simultaneous announcement that he would pay compensation to the families of the 29 men he was accused of killing was just a coincidence, and that there was no deal. As usual, they lied:

Twelve health and safety charges laid against Whittall were dropped in Christchurch District Court on December 12. It was also announced at that hearing there would be a $3.41 million payment to the families of the 29 men who died in the mine and the two survivors.

At the time, Judge Jane Farish stressed to media there had been no back-room deal. One of Whittall’s lawyers, Stacey Shortall, also said any suggestion the payment offer from the Pike River Coal Company and its directors and officers was in return for the charges being dropped was ‘‘absolutely wrong’’.

But in an October 16 letter, Whittall’s lawyer Stuart Grieve QC lays out a proposal to make available $3.41m to the Pike River families.

The letter, released exclusively to Fairfax Media, says that in ‘‘advance of the $3.41 million being made available, it is proposed [with precise terms to be agreed] that ... the Ministry will not proceed with the charges laid against Mr Whittall by advising the Court that no evidence will be offered in support of any of the charges.’’

So, they cut a deal with a rich prick to allow him to buy his way out of jail, then lied to the public about it (and in the process, turned a High Court Judge into a liar as well - wonder how she feels about that?) This isn't justice. But its clear that National thinks that the law only applies to peasants, not to them and their rich mates.