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Australian police find no case against CTV fraudster

Monday 20 May 2013 12:24 p.m.

Convicted fraudster, Gerald Morton Shirtcliff (file).

Convicted fraudster, Gerald Morton Shirtcliff (file).

An inquiry by Australian police into fraud allegations concerning a New Zealand engineer who oversaw the construction of Christchurch's CTV building has failed to establish any wrongdoing.

A professional engineering body lodged a complaint with the Australian Federal Police five months ago, claiming that Gerald Morton Shirtcliff – a convicted fraudster who is also facing a police probe in New Zealand – stole the identity of a British engineer and faked his degree.

Engineers Australia cancelled Shirtcliff's membership after they found that he took the identity of a former colleague, William Fisher, along with his University of Sheffield engineering degree.

The 67-year-old used the stolen degree to gain admittance to the University of New South Wales in 1971, where he studied towards his masters in highway engineering. He completed the programme, but it was revealed that his father did most of the work for him.

He later worked on several building projects at global engineering consultancy WorleyParsons, and had a key role as construction manager in overseeing the CTV building construction.

The University of New South Wales stripped Shirtcliff of his degree in November last year after an investigation.

Despite Engineers Australia urging police to pursue the matter, the Australian police told APNZ they are unable to find a case against him.

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

Shirtcliff was convicted and jailed for 20 months in 2005 for a GST-related fraud in New Zealand, and Campbell LIVE also uncovered allegations against him involving a fake commercial pilot license.

He initially refused to give evidence at the royal commission of inquiry into the collapse of the CTV building, which killed 115 people during the February 2012 earthquake, and then later played down his involvement.

While continually denying any wrongdoing, he says that he lived under the Fisher identity because of "family issues".

Australian police have agreed to provide advice to New Zealand police in regards to their investigation, which is currently underway.

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