Whakaari White Island trial: Owners make second bid to dismiss charges

The owners of Whakaari White Island have made a second bid to get charges against them thrown out.

Peter, James and Andrew Buttle's lawyer argued WorkSafe produced no evidence to prove any one of them had failed in their duty of care to tourists in the 2019 eruption that killed 22 people.

For Peter Buttle and his brothers Andrew and James, arriving in court on Thursday morning, the wheels of justice have moved far too slowly.

"Your honour, this has gone on for quite some time, there is absolutely no surprise," the Buttles' lawyer, James Cairney, told Judge Evangelos Thomas.

"We should not be at the point now and saying we need to find the evidence that goes to the elements of the offence."

The brothers all arrived to hear their lawyer arguing once more for the case against them to be thrown out. 

The High Court turned down an appeal this week but, at the conclusion of WorkSafe's evidence, Cairney took one more shot.

"So when we ask about how thorough is this investigation, we can say, I suggest, we struggle to call this an investigation at all," Cairney said.

Cairney said WorkSafe's investigation was "utterly flawed."

"In respect of its non-investigation into the three directors or its half-baked investigation into the three directors," he continued.

WorkSafe argues the three Buttle brothers neglected their duty to the tourists on Whakaari White Island even though three people at WorkSafe had earlier recommended no action against them.

"It was an investigation into other parties, things spun off about these individuals, they were lumped together as the Buttles."

Cairney said investigators never looked at the nitty-gritty of how the Buttles operated their company, Whakaari Management Limited, or its finances.

"We don't know how decisions were made, we don't know any roles in respect of them."

He said, at one point, James Buttle told a meeting tours should stop or go based purely on Volcanic Alert Levels (VALs), a move which would have lost revenue.

"There's a horrible irony in that had a VAL 2 limit been part of the system, there would have been no tours from November 17 and no tours on December 9 when Whakaari erupted," he said.

WorkSafe will respond on Friday with the judge indicating he'll decide by Tuesday before the defendants open their case.