Fears over fake engineer's mining footprint

A FAKE engineer - linked to the fatal CTV building collapse in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and to various Australian mining projects - was reportedly fined $500,000 by Queensland Magistrate's Court.

Blair Price
Fears over fake engineer's mining footprint

The 2012 New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into the seven-storey CTV collapse, which killed 115 of the quake’s 185 casualties, determined the building’s construction manager was using the stolen identity of a retired British engineer named William Fisher.

The fraudster, 66-year-old Gerald Shirtcliffe, had stolen Fisher’s engineering degree in 1969 when they both shared a flat in South Africa.

Australian Federal Police could not find a case against the Brisbane-based Shirtcliffe last year but he pleaded guilty to 146 charges raised by the Board of Professional Engineers of Queensland in June.

According to Radio New Zealand, the charges related to carrying out professional services while not being a registered engineer and for making false statements to the BPEQ with Shirtcliffe ordered to pay $20,000 for professional costs on top of the $500,000 fine.

The Brisbane Times has reported that projects he worked on across the state needed to be reassessed.

“In Queensland, Shirtcliffe worked for engineering firms Worley Parsons Ltd and Sedgman Ltd, where he worked on several major projects,” the newspaper reported on Sunday.

“Those included major coal projects at Maules Creek, Codrilla, Boggabri, Lake Vermont and Caval Ridge.”

Shirtcliffe also reportedly worked on the New Acland coal mine in Queensland plus the southern expansion of Mount Isa Mines' Black Star open cut mine in the state.

Worley and Sedgman declined to comment to the Brisbane newspaper. Shirtcliffe worked for Worley in 2012.

In that year, Engineers Australia cancelled Shirtcliffe's registration while the University of New South Wales revoked his Master of Engineering Science in Highway Engineering that he obtained under Fisher’s name.

Shirtcliffe reportedly enrolled in UNSW course in 1973 using the stolen degree to gain entry to qualify for it.

A spokesman for Public Works Minister Tim Mander, whose portfolio includes BPEQ, reportedly said Shirtcliffe's most recent employers had reviewed his work and "reported no concerns".

"The board is currently exploring options to investigate Mr Shirtcliffe's prior work history," he said.


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