New info could cast doubt over lack of CTV prosecution

New information has been revealed by CTV families that could cast doubt on the decision not to lay criminal charges over the building‘s collapse.

Search and Rescue teams at the site of the CTV building in February 2011. Photo: AFP / Ho / Usar

The six-storey office block .

Late last year following a three year long police investigation, against the engineers that designed it due to a lack of evidence.

CTV families spokesperson Maan Alkaisi said the new information was revealed to him and other family members during their meeting with deputy solicitor-general Brendon Horsley in December last year after the decision not to prosecute was taken.

The families put it to Mr Horsley that the owner of the firm that designed the office block, Alan Reay, had been told on two occasions that the building had major deficiencies in its design that made it prone to collapsing in an earthquake.

The first time was in 1986 during construction when a city council engineer pointed out 13 problems that needed to be fixed.

The second time was in 1990, 21 years before its collapse, when another engineer said it could fall over in an earthquake.

On both occasions, Mr Alkaisi, said this advice was either ignored or did not result in effective remedies being taken.

He said when these points were made to Mr Horsley he looked surprised and said he had not been told about this by Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh or inquiry head Superintendent Peter Read.

Mr Alkaisi, who was making notes during the meeting said the deputy solicitor-general then told the families this information “could be used to press charges … for negligence”.

He said the room went silent.

“There was an overwhelming sense of disbelief that having heard Mr Horsley respond, it appeared to us that he was unaware of critical information and accordingly had not taken this in to account before reaching his decision not to prosecute.”

CTV families spokesperson Maan Alkaisi Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Mr Alkaisi said inquiry head Peter Read told the families he was unhappy Mr Horsley had decided to go against the police advice – that 115 charges of manslaughter should be laid against Mr Reay.

He said the families agreed Mr Horsley‘s decision was clearly wrong.

“It‘s simply outrageous that the person who essentially took the whole decision and advised the police to change their decision was not aware of all the facts.”

The CTV families have sent signed affidavits to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Attorney-General David Parker calling for a review of the decision not to prosecute.

“This is actually their chance to put their own signature on this matter and show that justice can actually be achieved for such a very clear case, for a case that has been going on for more than seven years now.”

A spokesperson for the deputy solicitor-general said Crown Law would need to consider the families‘ claims before deciding whether to comment.

Police said they too would need to take time before deciding whether to comment.

There‘s been no response so far from Mr Parker‘s office.