New Zealand top military scientist a con artist

Steven WilceFrom Nature:

NZ top defence scientist accused of telling “big hairy lies” – September 10, 2010

New Zealand’s defence establishment has been rocked, not by the massive earthquake that recently hit the country, but by accusations that its chief scientist is not, as he had claimed, an Olympic bobsledder, a special forces soldier, or an ex-British spook.

Hey, all my life I have been so naive that I believed that, to qualify as a “chief scientist” one must be a scientist. Never mind bobsledding. Never mind killing Afghans or other people a long way from Britain in the special forces. Never mind spying.

However, it seems that in the killing industry … err… in “defence” a scientist does not have to be a scientist.

For five years, British-born Steven Wilce ran the country’s Defence Technology Agency, which advised the government on weapon’s systems and new technologies. His job also made him the top scientific official in the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF), and had high-level security clearances.

Wilce made himself sound like the man for the job. He claimed to be a reservist in the British Special forces and to have worked for MI-5 and MI-6. He told colleagues he had helped design the inertial guidance system for Britain’s Polaris submarine-launched nuclear missile (though that would have made him pretty old, given it was designed in the 1950s).

He was also quite the athlete, claiming to have competed on the British Olympic bobsled team in the 1980s, against the famous Jamaican “cool runnings” team. In New Zealand, Wilce has held a number of executive management roles, though he never seemed to hold a job for long.

An investigation by New Zealand’s 60 minutes reveals why: Almost everything Wilce claimed about life before New Zealand wasn’t true, including his bobsledding prowess. According to many former Kiwi colleagues, he mismanaged many of the companies he was hired to run. “I found this fellow was telling me massive porkies,” business consultant Steve Saunders told the programme.

The NZDF has now opened an investigation into how Wilce got the job. The former top scientist has meanwhile resigned from his post, according to reports.

From 3News in New Zealand:

Despite an internal complaint about his suitability, Wilce was still sent on an overseas course that cost the taxpayer over $250,000.

4 thoughts on “New Zealand top military scientist a con artist

  1. Disgraced legislator resigns from New Zealand parliament

    Posted : Thu, 23 Sep 2010 04:03:20 GMT
    By : dpa

    Wellington – A New Zealand legislator who admitted he stole a dead toddler’s identity to get a false passport as a “prank” 26 years ago resigned from parliament Friday.

    David Garrett, 52, who was a hardliner on law and order, resigned from the right-wing ACT party, which supports the centre-right government, after it was revealed that his name was suppressed when he admitted the offence in court and was discharged without conviction.

    It was also revealed recently that Garrett, a lawyer, was convicted of assault in Tonga while living there in 2002.

    Garrett, a first-term member of parliament elected in 2008, said he could remain in the House of Representatives as an independent but he would lack a mandate.

    “With no credibility and no mandate, I’d be a pretty pathetic figure,” he said.

    Garrett was elected on the ACT party’s slate in the past general election and would be replaced by the next person on the list, lawyer Hilary Calvert said, so a by-election is not necessary.

    ACT would maintain its five members of parliament, who are allies of the ruling conservative National Party, which has 58 seats in the 122-strong parliament. Prime Minister John Key’s administration is also supported by five Maori Party members and one other legislator.

    Garrett admitted in parliament last week that he had used a dead 2-year-old boy’s name from a cemetery gravestone to get his birth certificate and obtain a false passport. He said he got the idea from reading Frederick Forsyth’s thriller The Day of the Jackal and wanted to see if it could be done.

    Court documents showed the boy’s mother, who is now 94, told police at the time that Garrett’s action was “akin to stealing from a grave.” A brother of the child dubbed the legislator the “lowest of the low.”

    Expressing “profound regret for the distress and hurt” he had caused, Garrett said, “I wish I had not done such a stupid and dreadfully hurtful thing in 1984.”


  2. Pingback: US mercenaries drunk, on drugs, in Afghanistan | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: British millionaire sold fake Iraq war bomb detectors | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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