Decision not to prosecute over New Zealand building collapse ignored crucial evidence

 

Decision not to prosecute over New Zealand building collapse ignored crucial evidence

By
Sam Price

4 May 2018

In a press statement on April 11, families of the victims of the Canterbury Television (CTV) building collapse revealed that Deputy Solicitor-General Brendan Horsley admitted there are grounds for prosecution, due to the negligence of building engineers.

The poorly-designed building crumbled during the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, killing 115 people. During a seven-year investigation, over 300 design flaws were found in the structure.

Ruins of Canterbury Television (CTV) building

Last November, police announced no charges would be laid after Horsley argued there were insufficient grounds for prosecution. Police had previously considered manslaughter charges against Alan Reay, former principal of the engineering firm that designed the CTV building, and David Harding, who worked on the design.

Horsley cited dubious legal barriers, including a law that prevents a prosecution for negligence causing death, if the death occurred more than a year after the negligent act. He said the case was “at best marginal on the evidence” and lacked sufficient “public interest” to prosecute.

However, families’ spokesman Maan Alkaisi, whose wife Maysoon Abbas died in the CTV building, revealed that Horsley was apparently not told that Reay was aware of the defects and made insufficient efforts to remedy them.

During a meeting on December 14 with Horsley, Christchurch Crown Solicitor Mark Zarifeh and senior police officers, Alkaisi stated that Reay had two opportunities to fix the defects: first in 1986 and then following an inspection in 1990 which identified structural weaknesses. In 1991, engineers installed steel “drag bars” (used to strengthen buildings) but…

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