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CTV building engineer faked degree

Saturday 15 Sep 2012 6:45 p.m.

By Krissy Moreau

Revelations came today that Gerald Shirtcliff, the man who supervised the construction of the CTV building, faked his engineering degree.

The CTV building collapsed in Christchurch’s February quake, killing 115 people.

The Press newspaper made the allegations after a month-long investigation into Mr Shirtcliff's background.

At the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission, Gerald Shirtcliff struggled, even saying he could not remember what name he lived under in South Africa.

Christchurch Press reporter Martin Van Beynen says he knows why.

“He's shown himself to be a liar and a cheat,” says Mr Van Beynen.

“I lived as Fisher, but Fisher and Shirtcliff are one and the same,” says Mr Shirtcliff.

But Mr Fisher and Mr Shirtcliff are actually two very different people. William Fisher is a retired engineer living in England.

Mr Van Beynen says Mr Shirtcliff stole Mr Fisher's identity and engineering degree in 1970, going on to supervise CTV's construction in the 80s. Mr Van Beynen says it has finally caught up with him.

3 News tried to speak to Mr Shirtcliff directly today, calling his Brisbane home, and we were told we had “the wrong number”.

The CTV building pancaked during the February quake, killing 115 people. Peter Brown lost lifelong colleagues, and says today's revelations aren't a shock.

“He tended to evade questions, so in some ways it doesn't surprise me,” says Mr Brown. “In another way it makes me a wee bit angry.”

And it's the worst kind of reminder.

“The process of healing takes place, but in this scenario every day there's something that pops out of the blue and kind of brings everything back,” says Mr Brown.

Sentenced to 20 months jail for forging GST receipts in 2005, Mr Shirtcliff is no longer believable for Peter Brown.

But the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission says that despite the allegations, the hearing into the performance of the CTV building is complete and matters relating to the construction of the building were well canvassed.

“It seems to me that's a fairly hasty response given that the major doubts about the credibility of this witness,” says Mr Van Beynen.

What the Royal Commission finally decides, we'll know in November.

3 News

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