Fraudster worked on buildings across Aust

21:12, Oct 19 2012

The Canterbury Television building's construction manager, Gerald Shirtcliff, supervised work on dozens of buildings in Australia after faking a master's degree and stealing the identity of an English engineer.

An investigation by Australian current affairs show 60 Minutes, airing tomorrow, has revealed Shirtcliff worked on multi-storey constructions in almost every Australian state since moving across the Tasman 25 years ago.

A Press investigation last month found Shirtcliff stole the identity of English engineer Will Fisher, with whom he worked in South Africa in the late 1960s, using Fisher's engineering degree from the University of Sheffield in England to gain a master's in highway engineering from the University of New South Wales in 1974.

He had no undergraduate qualification to gain entry to the master's programme.

In 1987, Shirtcliff was construction manager on the CTV building, which collapsed on February 22 last year, killing 115 people.

He later moved to Australia, where, as Will Fisher, his work included a supervisory role on the 33-storey Kingsgate Hotel in Kings Cross, Sydney.


The real Will Fisher, now retired and living in Devon, England, told 60 Minutes that he felt his name was "stuck there like mud" after the 40-year impersonation.

"Part of my anxiety is what the hell else has he got up to?" he said.

As Fisher, Shirtcliff worked for some of the biggest names in Australian engineering, including Sedgman, WorleyParsons and Calibre Projects. He also ran his own company, CSF Consulting Engineers.

His 2009 CV claimed he worked on the design and certification of three-storey apartment blocks in Queensland, supervision of an open-cut goldmine in Ballarat and involvement as a senior engineer in the flagpole project at New Parliament House in Canberra.

Shirtcliff's shady past emerged after he gave evidence to the Canterbury earthquakes royal commission on the CTV collapse.

His most recent employers, Sedgman and WorleyParsons, have sacked him, and Engineers Australia has cancelled his membership and referred the matter to the Australian police.

Shirtcliff is already under investigation by the New Zealand police.

The Press