Investigation over CTV engineer dropped

No action over CTV collapse

MARC GREENHILL AND CHARLES ANDERSON
Last updated 13:10 20/05/2014
Alan Reay
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ

INVESTIGATION DROPPED: Alan Reay had been challenging the right of Ipenz to investigate complaints made against him following the Canterbury quakes royal commission.

CTV building
Michael Fox
DEADLY FALL: The CTV building in Madras St collapsed on February 22, 2011, taking 115 lives and injuring many other people.

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The engineer whose company designed the CTV building, which collapsed killing 115 people in the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, has spoken publicly for the first time in 18 months.

Alan Reay said an investigation into him by the engineering industry professional body had been "unreasonable" and "unfair"

The Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (Ipenz) was today forced to abandon its work because of a "loophole".

Ipenz announced that it had dropped its investigation because Reay resigned from the voluntary body in February.

Reay, whose firm designed the failed building, had been challenging the right of Ipenz to investigate complaints made against him after the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.

The commission found the CTV building, which collapsed on February 22, 2011, did not meet construction standards.

Reay said in a statement his resignation had "had nothing to do" with bringing an end to the disciplinary processes against him.

"I was [and am] confident that my conduct at all times complied with my professional obligations, both as a member of Ipenz and as a chartered professional engineer," the statement said.

"Not a day goes by that I don't think about the loss of life in the Christchurch earthquakes and the impact on grieving families. I cannot undo the past. I have been and continue to be absolutely committed to ensuring that every possible lesson is learned from this tragedy."

However, he said Ipenz had been "ineffectual in dealing with real issues that affect public safety since the earthquakes".

Ipenz had acted in "unreasonable and unfair ways" towards him during the investigation, he said.

It had not provided him with documents he had asked for and failed to tell him of the existence of documents which were relevant to his case.

"In short, the disciplinary processes have been conducted in such as way as to be entirely unfair to me and my rights."

He no longer had confidence in Ipenz and resigned with "much regret", Reay said.

He remains registered as a chartered professional engineer and international professional engineer. He had continued to comply with "the ethical standards of engineering".

Ipenz chief executive Dr Andrew Cleland said Ipenz had "no jurisdiction" to continue the investigation despite putting many months into it.

"We don't believe it was a waste of time, it was a valid complaint into a serious matter by people who suffered an awful loss," Cleland said.

The complainants, including family members of the dead, had been informed of the decision.

The case highlighted the failure of successive governments to put in place an engineering licensing regime where one had to be a licensed engineer to practise, Cleland said.

"If work is deemed to be public-safety critical it needs to be restricted to only registered people."

The Press last year obtained statements of claim and defence from the High Court in Christchurch which set out Reay's case to stop the investigations.

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The two complaints challenged by Reay were one by Tim Elms and others laid in 2012 that alleged deficiencies with design work in 1986 and with remedial work done on the CTV building by Geoff Banks, of Reay's firm, in 1991.

The complaint accused Reay and his employee, David Harding of incompetence, It said Reay had acted unethically by failing to inform various parties of facts about the building between September 2010 and February 2011.

Another allegation in the complaint said Reay destroyed a disk containing design information about the CTV building.

The second complaint was by Mike Stannard, who alleged Reay failed to supervise Harding when he designed the CTV building and then exerted inappropriate pressure on the Christchurch City Council to approve the plans.

A police spokesman said the assessment into the collapse of the CTV building was continuing. 

Police announced in February that engineering firm Beca had been engaged to review information on the collapse of the CTV Building. 

"The review is part of an ongoing assessment by police to determine whether any criminal investigation should be commenced in connection with deaths that followed the earthquake," the spokesman said.

A final decision on the investigation would be made by the third quarter of 2014, the spokesman said.

- The Press

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