Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

CTV fraudster has degree revoked

Gerald Morton Shirtcliff, aka William Anthony Fisher. Photo / File photo
Gerald Morton Shirtcliff, aka William Anthony Fisher. Photo / File photo

The convicted fraudster who oversaw the construction of Christchurch's deadly CTV building has had his engineering degree revoked after a university investigation.

Gerald Morton Shirtcliff, aka William Anthony Fisher, has been accused of stealing the identity of a British engineer and faking his engineering degree.

Shirtcliff, now living in Brisbane, is also being investigated by New Zealand police over the claims and has had his lucrative contract with global engineering consultancy WorleyParsons torn up.

Last month, an internal probe by professional engineering body Engineers Australia found that 67-year old Shirtcliff falsely assumed the identity, including a University of Sheffield engineering degree, of former colleague William Anthony Fisher.

It was alleged the degree gave him entry to a masters programme at the University of New South Wales in 1971, which led to his getting a master of engineering science in highway engineering.

APNZ has now learned that the Australian university has upheld the claims and stripped the controversial figure of his degree.

"The University of New South Wales (UNSW) investigation into allegations raised against Gerald Shirtcliff has been completed," a spokeswoman said.

"UNSW has notified Mr Gerald Shirtcliff, otherwise known as William Fisher, that it has revoked the degree of Master of Engineering Science in Highway Engineering awarded to William Fisher on 17 April 1974."

Engineers Australia has also cancelled Shirtcliff's membership.

Shirtcliff first hit the headlines this year when he initially refused to give evidence at the royal commission of inquiry into the collapse of the six-storey CTV building, killing 115 people, in the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

He finally fronted up after it emerged he was a convicted fraudster, having been jailed in 2005 for a GST fraud in which he falsified the books of a failing business he sold to a Queenstown couple.

During the hearing, he was accused by commission lawyers of distancing himself from responsibility after he claimed limited involvement in its construction, despite being construction manager on the project.

He told the hearing he was a graduate civil engineer.

Asked why he lived in Australia under the Fisher identity, he said it was because of "family issues" going back 40 years.

The New Zealand Police probe continues.

Shirtcliff has continually denied any wrongdoing, mainly through his Brisbane lawyer David Tucker.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 27 Dec 2014 23:16:22 Processing Time: 465ms