Lawyer of Whakaari White Island owners says broad inquiry into tragedy 'should occur'

The lawyer of the owners of Whakaari White Island believes a broad inquiry into the tragic eruption "should occur" and says it may provide answers to the victims involved.   

On Tuesday, the charges against the individual owners of Whakaari White Island were dismissed because WorkSafe did not produce enough evidence about what happened behind the scenes between the individual directors.  

The Buttle brothers - Peter, James and Andrew - were charged individually along with their company Whakaari Management Ltd (WML).   

But Judge Evangelos Thomas ruled there was not enough evidence "to continue with the charges at this stage" and dismissed them.   

Following the ruling, the brothers' lawyer James Cairney joined AM on Wednesday and said what unfolded on December 9, 2019, was a "horrible tragedy" and his clients' "hearts absolutely goes out to those victims".  

Cairney believes a wide-ranging enquiry into the eruption "should occur for what it's worth" and "might provide some answers to the victims of this horrible tragedy".  

"We need to remember that this criminal trial is not that broad," he said.  

"A criminal trial, in fact any criminal trial, is essentially whether there was a health and safety case, a legal duty, the scope of that duty and whether specific named defendants committed an offence in accordance with the legislation."  

He said everyone in Aotearoa has the presumption of innocence unless proven otherwise, which needs to be proved with evidence.  

"If there's no evidence of the key ingredients, respectfully that's the end of that matter and that's what's happened in this case."  

A WorkSafe spokesperson said in a statement the agency is considering the judgement and had no further comment to add. 

Watch the video above for more.