Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
Date 20 December 2011

CAA RELEASE

For further information contact:

Senior Communications Adviser, Emma Peel
Tel: 04 560 9646, or 027 272 3545
Email: emma.peel@caa.govt.nz

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Coronial inquest resumes - Name suppression lifted

A former CAA staff member has been arrested in connection with an email sent during the Coronial Inquest into the deaths of David Fielding, James Taylor and Bevan Hookway after a mid-air collision at Paraparaumu Airport in February 2008.  Mr Peter Kirker, former Manager Safety Investigation, was granted name suppression until 10am today when the Inquest resumes.

During the last sitting of the Inquest on the matter in late October, it became apparent that an email sent to the family of one of the deceased, David Fielding, purportedly in the name of Massey University School of Aviation manager Frank Sharp, was not from Mr Sharp.  The Coroner, Ian Smith, requested that the Police investigate the origins of the email.  As a consequence of the Police investigation, Mr Kirker was charged by Police in relation to the matter.  Mr Kirker faces charges of forgery, use of forged document and perverting the course of justice.

When the CAA became aware of the charges laid against Mr Kirker an employment investigation process was immediately started.  Mr Kirker was suspended from his duties, pending the completion of the investigation.  Given the seriousness of the issues, one potential outcome of that investigation was summary dismissal.

Part way through that investigation, and prior to its conclusion, Mr Kirker unconditionally resigned from his employment with the CAA, with immediate effect.  Mr Kirker’s resignation was accepted and his employment with the CAA came to an end on 15 December 2011.

The CAA expects the highest standards of conduct from all of its staff, and the issues that have arisen in respect of Mr Kirker’s employment would not be tolerated by the CAA from any staff member. The CAA regrets the involvement of a CAA staff member in such action as this, and is deeply concerned about the impacts the alleged actions may have on the Inquest, and in particular the families of Mr Fielding, Mr Taylor and Mr Hookway.

There are a range of matters still before the Coroner, and the charges laid against Mr Kirker are still before the Court.  The CAA is therefore restrained from commenting further on this matter or publicly providing any further detail until each of these matters has been resolved.

 

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