23 Mar 2015

CTV engineer disciplinary hearing underway

2:16 pm on 23 March 2015

The engineer whose company designed the CTV building, which collapsed in the February 2011 earthquake, was put through a shorter-than-usual assessment to obtain renewed professional registration after the Christchurch quakes.

Rescuers stand at the smoking ruins of the CTV building.

Rescuers stand at the smoking ruins of the CTV building. Photo: Marty Melville / AFP

A three-day Disciplinary Committee hearing is underway in Christchurch to consider a complaint made by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ), against Alan Reay.

After the earthquakes, engineers had to have chartered professional engineer registration to be allowed to enter the central city red zone.

To deal with the immediate demand for engineers, IPENZ organised two training sessions in Christchurch in April 2011 to help candidates prepare their registration applicants and provide sufficient evidence of their competence.

Dr Reay was among the three senior engineers who received fast-tracked assessment and registration.

The IPENZ complaint said he was interviewed for more than an hour on 19 April and during this time, and on his application documentation, he did not disclose his involvement with the design and construction of the CTV building.

The complaint, which Dr Reay denies, was referred to the Investigating Committee.

Dr Reay's counsel Hugh Rennie QC said it was unclear whether those seeking registration were required to list past building failures they may have been involved with.

Mr Rennie spent the morning questioning a witness, IPENZ registrar Jeff Wastney, about the handling and approval of Dr Reay's application.

Mr Wastney said the focus was on proving current, not past, engineering competence.

Dr Reay was a chartered professional engineer and also a fellow, or senior engineer, of IPENZ.

The hearing is scheduled to take three days and if the complaint is successful, submissions will be made on the appropriate penalty.

Assessment panel member lost friend

One of the two panel members who assessed Dr Reay's application lost a friend in the CTV building collapse.

Competence assessor Tim Armitage said he was certain Dr Reay did not mention his involvement with the design and construction of the building for two reasons - firstly he knew Murray Wood, who died in the building, both personally and professionally, and secondly, he would have asked follow-up questions about Dr Reay's involvement.

Mr Armitage said, had he known that Dr Reay's firm was behind the CTV building, he would have raised the potential conflict of interest with his colleague Basil Wakelin before continuing with the assessment.

Mr Wakelin, who was the second panel member during Dr Reay's engineering competence assessment, said he would have ''never in a thousand years" made a handwritten note about how well Dr Reay's buildings had performed during the quakes, had he known about CTV.

Mr Wakelin's notes from the interview contain the words "CTV discussed".

Mr Wakelin said the collapse of the building was discussed from an engineering point of view but said Dr Reay never mentioned his firm's involvement with the building.

Mr Rennie said his client had indicated that the building was designed by somebody he used to employ.

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