CTV engineer fights probe

The Christchurch engineer whose firm designed the deadly Canterbury Television building is trying to stop an investigation into his engineering activities by the Institution of Professional Engineers (Ipenz).

Alan Reay has filed papers in the High Court in Christchurch seeking a declaratory judgment that Ipenz lacks the jurisdiction to investigate him.

The court action was filed last week, and a date for a hearing has yet to be set.

The CTV building in Madras St collapsed in the February 22, 2011, earthquake, killing 115 people and injuring many others.

Ipenz is investigating complaints about Reay's engineering activities.

A 54-strong group of relatives of those killed filed a complaint last year with Ipenz, which is also investigating a complaint about Reay laid by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's chief engineer.

Ipenz is also looking into its own concerns, initiated by its chief executive, Andrew Cleland, about Reay's conduct regarding his registration as a chartered professional engineer in 2011.

A report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Canterbury Earthquakes said structural engineer David Harding, employed by Alan Reay Consultants, designed the CTV building in 1986 but was left largely unsupervised by principal Alan Reay despite Harding's limited experience designing multi-level buildings.

The commissioners found there were non-complying aspects of the design because Harding was working "beyond his competence" and Reay did not review the design.

"This led to a building design that was deficient in a number of important respects," the report said.

Tim Elms, of Hawarden, whose daughter, Teresa McLean, 40, died in the collapse, said he was disappointed at Reay's court bid.

Elms was part of the original group of six that complained to Ipenz about Reay and Harding last October.

The group of complainants had now grown to 54 people, with eight or nine countries represented, Elms said.

The complaint alleged incompetence, negligence and unethical behaviour.

Reay's lawyer, Willie Palmer, said it was not appropriate for his client to comment "at this time" because the matter was before the court.

Ipenz said Reay's court proceeding alleged it lacked "jurisdiction to investigate any aspects of the complaints that predated December 3, 2002, when Ipenz's rules were replaced".

Ipenz deputy chief executive Nicki Crauford said Reay had been a member of Ipenz since 1970.

As a professional body representing about 15,000 engineers nationwide, Ipenz could investigate complaints about a member's professional capacities, she said.

The Press