Student leader made up identity to 'make myself feel better'

FALSE CLAIMS: Former Association of Students at UCOL (AS@U) president Danny Goodman.
FALSE CLAIMS: Former Association of Students at UCOL (AS@U) president Danny Goodman.

A Palmerston North student union president has admitted to lying about his background, making up his name, purporting to be a former policeman and claiming fake university qualifications.

Originally from Motueka, Danny Goodman featured in a Manawatu Standard profile last week following his appointment as the polytechnic's new student leader.

Goodman detailed his aims for the year and claimed his past experiences included 15 years in the police force - as a general duties officer in Kings Cross, Sydney, time with the New South Wales water police and as a criminal profiler for the New York police department.

He said he was from Wellington, spent some of his childhood in Australia, studied an associate degree in policing practice at Charles Sturt University and an honours degree in applied science from the University of New South Wales.

A former Australian policeman Steve Elers raised concerns about Goodman's claims and, when confronted, Goodman admitted he lied.

Elers, now an Auckland University of Technology academic, said: "Once I read the section in the article about the policing experience, I knew it was a complete fabrication . . . he had constructed an imagined version of reality and had probably watched too many cop shows on television."

Elers, originally from Feilding, worked for the Western Australian police in Perth from 2008 to 2012 - proven by official accreditation.

"It was a bizarre claim . . . I don't know the guy, I went to UCOL, I like the place and I like Palmy, but it just seemed suspicious," Elers said.

A NSW police spokesman said a search of the personnel system failed to find anyone called Danny or Daniel Goodman with any service history as a past or present member of the police force. "It is always concerning when a person purports to be a police officer when they are not and impersonation of a police officer is a criminal offence which may be punishable by fine, imprisonment or both," he said.

Goodman said yesterday his real name is Darryl Newport, he was born in Motueka, has never lived in Australia and he made up the persona of "Danny Goodman" years ago. He said the "elaborate" tale quickly escalated and he regretted making it up, apologising to people affected by his deceit.

"This is a non-event; I've been caught out on a lie," he said.

"It was to make myself feel better.

"I haven't had the best of upbringings and my self-esteem at various stages of my life has not been the best, although that's not an excuse . . . I was trying to impress people and it obviously got out of hand - the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

Goodman said he had never campaigned on his fake background or included it on CVs and hoped to keep his position as president of AS@U because he felt his fabrication did not affect his ability to serve students. Goodman is also known for his amateur theatre involvement, which has led to him appearing in multiple stage shows.

UCOL spokeswoman Christine Beech said Goodman is not a staff member, he has not used his claims for educational gains, and the polytechnic has no responsibility regarding his employment and would not be looking into it any further.

Goodman contacted the Manawatu Standard after the profile was published to request corrections be made to some of the information he had fabricated, including the length of time he had worked with the New South Wales police.

Manawatu Standard