Pike River’s lawyers have been pushing to attend the Department of Labour/police interviews with workers. Workers who refuse to have a company lawyer present are being interrogated by the company afterwards about what they were asked and how they responded. Pike are also trying to get the recordings of the interviews.
This behaviour seriously risks compromising the investigation. Pike may well be prosecuted if this investigation finds they are at fault and their attempts are akin to a suspect in a crime being allowed to sit in on police witness interviews.
Tellingly Pike’s rationale for doing this changed over the course of a few hours. Early in the piece they were claiming they were providing lawyers to ensure workers “got the appropriate advice on their rights, and how the process worked.” but by the time John Dow was appearing on Checkpoint it was all about the company saving time on its own investigation.
It is up to the Department of Labour and the police to make it very clear right now that company reps will not attend these interviews and that the tapes will not be provided to Pike River Coal ltd.
This investigation is serious and it needs to turn up real answers. If workers can’t be confident they are speaking confidentially it is unlikely the full story will be told and that would be a huge disservice to the men that have perished in this disaster and to the principles of natural justice.