Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

CTV report: Protagonists go to ground

Police and volunteers work to rescue people trapped in the collapsed CTV building. Photo / Geoff Sloan
Police and volunteers work to rescue people trapped in the collapsed CTV building. Photo / Geoff Sloan

The three main protagonists highlighted in a royal commission report into the CTV disaster have gone to ground today.

Principal engineer Alan Reay, construction manager Gerald Shirtcliff, and designer David Harding are all refusing to comment on the hard-hitting report's findings.

Dr Reay, whose firm Alan Reay Consultants Ltd designed the six-storey Christchurch office block that came down in the magnitude-6.3 quake, killing 115 people, claims to be still waiting for an official copy of the report.

The report has been publicly available on the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission website since it was officially released at 3pm yesterday.

Dr Reay is criticised in the report for giving his inexperienced structural engineer David Harding "sole responsibility" of coming up with its design in 1986.

He's also fingered for not reviewing Mr Harding's final plans, and also for playing a part in Christchurch City Council wrongfully signing off a building permit.

Dr Reay did not respond to messages at his firm, Alan Reay Consultants Ltd, today and was not at his Christchurch home.

But his lawyer Willie Palmer claimed they are yet to receive an official copy of the report, which he described as being "disappointing".

"One assumes it's in the post," Mr Palmer said.

Mr Harding, however, is working his way through the document with his own lawyer, Michael Kirkland.

"It's a fairly substantial document and we're still considering it," the lawyer said.

Asked how Mr Harding reacted to seeing the contents of the report, which heavily criticises his design errors, Mr Kirkland said: ``I can't comment at this stage, until we've gone through it in some detail.

"Christmas is right upon us, so I suspect it'll be the new year before we comment."

Dr Reay's lawyer gave a similar timeframe for commenting publicly.

Mr Palmer accepted that the public was keen to hear his client's views on the report: "I certainly appreciate that.

"We're quite keen to get through it but it's very difficult without having the actual report," Mr Palmer said.

"Dr Reay has looked at it on the royal commission's website but we've only been able to skim read it.

"It's a detailed report, and will take some time to consider.

Meanwhile, the convicted fraudster who oversaw construction on the doomed Madras St site has kept up his cross-Tasman vow of silence.

Commissioners ruled there were "serious issues" with Mr Shirtcliff's credibility, while also concluding he did not spend sufficient time on site during construction in order to "adequately perform the role of a construction manager".

They also said he was "not up to the job".

Questions were passed to Mr Shirtcliff via his Australian lawyer David Tucker today - as has been the process when trying to get him to respond to a claim that he faked his engineering degree and stole the identity of a British engineer.

"I've read your note, but I really don't want to talk to you," Mr Shirtcliff said from his Brisbane home.

Some families who lost loved ones in the disaster want those responsible for its "pancake" collapse to face manslaughter charges.

CTV receptionist Mary-Ann Jackson, who fled the collapsing building during the quake by sprinting out the front door, believes three people were responsible for the death of 16 of her colleagues - Dr Reay, Mr Shirtcliff and property manager John Drew.

"I want them thrown all in the same cell together," she said.

"I was brought up with the Ten Commandments - thou shalt not kill. I want justice and accountability for my good friends who died and for their families. I believe in a life for a life."

- APNZ

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