CTV 'engineer' won't face charges

22:38, May 19 2013
Gerald Shirtcliff
GERALD SHIRTCLIFF: Said he had little to do with the construction of the CTV building.

A fake engineer who supervised construction of Christchurch's CTV building will not face criminal charges in Australia.

Australian Federal Police said this morning it would not investigate claims of fraud against Gerald Shirtcliff, who stole the identity of English engineer William Fisher.

An investigation last year found Shirtcliff used used Fisher's bachelor of engineering degree to enrol at New South Wales University in Sydney in 1972.

Shirtcliff, under the name William Fisher, obtained a masters in highway engineering in 1974 by which time he was working as an engineer and had become a member of Engineers Australia, again using the Fisher name and degree.

The University of New South Wales revoked the degree while Engineers Australia cancelled Shirtcliff's membership and referred his alleged fraud to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman said this morning police would not investigate the claims it received from Engineers Australia in November last year.

‘‘The matter was evaluated and no Commonwealth offences were identified.’’

Advice had been provided to New Zealand Police, which was also investigating Shirtcliff.

He told the royal commission of the inquiry into the Canterbury earthquakes he was a "graduate engineer".

He testified he had little to do with the construction of the CTV building, although other witnesses said he should have visited the site as frequently as once a day.

Stephen Durkin, chief executive officer of Engineers Australia, said his organisation had given Shirtcliff an opportunity to respond to the allegations before his membership was cancelled.

Shirtcliff, who claimed to have worked in senior positions on large engineering projects in Australia - including an 81-metre flagpole on Parliament House and a 33-storey Kings Cross building - had not responded, Durkin said.

At the time he was exposed, Shirtcliff was working as an engineer for multinational engineering companies in Brisbane where he lives. He was sacked immediately.

The CTV building was finished in about October 1987. It collapsed on during the 6.3-magnitude earthquake on February 22, 2011, killing 115 people. It was found to have serious construction defects.
Shirtcliff worked with English engineer William Fisher in South Africa in 1968-1969. During The Press investigation Shirtcliff provided Fisher's degree from the University of Sheffield to the newspaper and said it was his own.

In fact he never attended the University of Sheffield and was not in England at the time. Shirtcliff completed a thesis on highway construction at UNSW and his lawyers offered it as evidence he was a genuine engineer.

It is understood Shirtcliff was assisted in his thesis by his Christchurch-based father who was a world authority on bitumen.

Shirtcliff said he had changed his name to Fisher because his father had abused him. This was denied by his family.


The Press