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Government looking at corporate manslaughter laws

Thursday 6 Dec 2012 7:49 p.m.

The Government is taking legal advice on introducing a criminal charge of corporate manslaughter, when organisations are found guilty of negligence causing death.

A 3 News Reid Research poll shows it would have strong public support.

At Pike River there were 29 deaths and as everybody knows, a questionable lack of accountability from those at the top.

The families want a criminal charge called corporate manslaughter introduced - without it, they say, there is no way of punishing those responsible.

“They don't care - and they know they can get away with it and if we continue to go down this path we are going to have more disasters such as Pike River,” families’ spokesman Bernie Monk says.

Prime Minister John Key is open to the idea.

“Something like corporate manslaughter might change that focus, and so it is definitely worthy of consideration.”

The 3 News poll shows the public agrees. When asked if they would like to see a charge of corporate manslaughter introduced so that corporations, companies, and Government departments guilty of negligence causing deaths can be held to account, 74 percent said yes and 26 percent said no.

Mr Key revealed today it's on the Government's agenda.

“We are getting legal advice on whether that is something that would be workable, and what the implications of corporate manslaughter would be - when we fully understand that we will be able to offer a view.”

It could also apply in cases like the RSA murders, the Air force's Anzac Day helicopter crash and the CTV building collapse.

Labour's Andrew Little has his own bill ready to go. He says if an organisation "causes death", there should be an up to $10 million fine for the organisation, up to 10 years in jail for senior managers and a publicity order the organisation pays for.

Canada and Australia already have a charge of corporate manslaughter in place. Given the public desire and political interest, it may not be long until it is in place here too. Mr Key says the legal advice from Crown Law will be back early next year.

3 News

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