Pike charges dropped, directors' insurance covers payment to victims' families

An unnamed insurance company will provide a $3.41 million payout to the families of 29 Pike River Coal miners who died and two survivors.

This is the outcome after all charges against former chief executive Peter Whittall were dropped.

The payment, described as voluntary, consists of $110,000 to each family and survivor and is to be made on behalf of the company’s directors at the time of the explosion in November 2010.

In the Christchurch District Court today, the Crown said that after an extensive review it was "not appropriate to continue with the prosecution against Mr Whittall'.'

In a memorandum of counsel for the defendant, lawyer Stuart Grieve, QC, says the Crown’s case contained “fundamental evidentiary deficiencies and flaws” that were identified by the defence counsel.

Some 32 of 91 briefs of evidence could not be submitted in evidence.

Mr Whittall, who fronted the media after the explosion, had earlier pled not guilty to the 12 charges brought by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

In a statement Mr Whittall and three former Pike directors John Dow, Ray Meyer and Stuart Nattrass say funds that would have been used to defend the case will now be made available to the families of the victims and the two survivors.

“Arrangements are being made for payment on behalf of the company’s directors and officers of the $3.41 million amount the company was ordered to pay.”

NBR ONLINE understands this means the directors’ and officers’ insurance cover is being called on.

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