Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

Police: No case against CTV man

Gerald Shirtcliff was the construction manager of the CTV building, where 115 people were killed during the Christchurch earthquake. Photo / Dean Kozanic
Gerald Shirtcliff was the construction manager of the CTV building, where 115 people were killed during the Christchurch earthquake. Photo / Dean Kozanic

An Australian police probe into claims the New Zealand man who oversaw construction of the CTV building in Christchurch stole the identity of a British engineer and faked his engineering degree has found no criminal wrongdoing.

Gerald Morton Shirtcliff, also known as William Anthony Fisher, is also facing an investigation by New Zealand police.

A complaint was laid with Australian Federal Police by professional engineering body Engineers Australia after it found the Brisbane-based Shirtcliff falsely assumed the identity, including a University of Sheffield engineering degree, of former colleague William Anthony Fisher.

He had been working for the global engineering consultancy WorleyParsons and had been involved in dozens of building projects. The firm said a review of projects he worked on had found no irregularities.

Engineers Australia cancelled Shirtcliff's membership and urged police to take the matter further.

But after a five-month police inquiry, Australian police say they cannot find a case against him.

"The matter was evaluated and no Commonwealth offences were identified," a federal police spokeswoman said.

However, the Australian police had "provided advice" to New Zealand police and would give assistance as required.

Shirtcliff, 67, hit the headlines last year when he initially refused to give evidence at the royal commission of inquiry into the collapse of the CTV building, which killed 115 people, in the February 22, 2011, earthquake.

He finally appeared after it emerged he was 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 royal commission hearing, he was accused by commission lawyers of distancing himself from responsibility after he claimed limited involvement in the building's construction, despite being construction manager.

Asked why he lived in Australia under the Fisher identity, he said it was because of "family issues" going back 40 years. Since giving evidence, he has been accused of stealing the identity of William Fisher, with whom he worked in South Africa, and faking an engineering degree.

It is alleged the fake degree from Sheffield University gave him entry to a master's programme at the University of New South Wales in 1971, which led to his master of engineering science in highway engineering.

Last November, the Australian university stripped him of his degree.

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

When asked if Mr Shirtcliff would like to comment on the news, a woman at his Brisbane home last night said "no he wouldn't" before hanging up the phone.

A spokesman for New Zealand police yesterday said their investigation remained open.

- APNZ

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