Graeme Robinson is one of the lieutenants of Barry Searle’s Napier mafia. He hails from Napier, but he came down to Christchurch to make some huge bucks.
Graeme has worked with EQC for more than thirty years and he is known as the engineer from hell. His job was to go to houses and justify EQC’s reasons for not paying. No one has ever received a fair inspection from Graeme. The nickname given to Graeme is “The Hammer”.
Earlier in the year, the EQC Truths blog offered money to anyone that could produce a report from Graeme Robinson showing that he classified damage as earthquake related. No one came forward to show that Graeme produced a report
Graeme has done over 2,000 assessments and EQC has paid him $1,500 per day. He is the only person at EQC on permanent contract. When EQC moved its loss adjusters from contract to an hourly rate, Reid Stiven and Barry Searle kept Graeme on contract so he could get more money.
Graeme wrote a paper in 2010 where he said that some claimants had a “propensity of some to claim for earthquake damage when the damage was pre-existing”. EQC loved his mindset.
When Graeme goes to a house, he rarely inspects the entire building. “He came here for only about ten minutes and never looked at the foundation”, says one distraught claimant.
Several claimants described Graeme as “arrogant” and “aggressive.” One said that Graeme threatened them with sabotaging their claim if they continued to question him.
When Graeme does assessments, he usually just spends a few minutes and does a cursory look. He never uses any tools. He simply walks around for a few minutes and then goes away.
An unnamed assessor said, “It reminded me of when ACC brought in their assessment team where they had a sudden spike of ACC claimants who were deemed to have pre-existing conditions”.
Another claimant says, “He was very rude to me and my husband. He just came and told us we were lying about the damage. We remodelled the house four months before the earthquake”.
We have received some of Graeme’s reports. They all look identical to each other. They are written from a template and he always says the damage is historical or pre-existing.
EQC have made it impossible for claimants to get their reports from Graeme Robinson. “Most of the time, they refuse to release it and make the claimant go through the OIA. It’s all about making things as hard as possible for the claimant so EQC can settle for less”.
An EQC person says, “Reid Stiven told us to make it difficult for claimants to get their reports. Reid often told us not to scan the reports on the file so claimants couldn’t find them even if they put through an OIA request.”
Graeme has always overstated his credentials. He falsely told people at EQC that he belonged to the team that wrote the Building Act.
Back in 2006, Graeme designed a retaining wall that ended up collapsing. The couple that owned the house, Bernard and Frances Walsh, sued Graeme. EQC ended up settling with them out of court for $140,000, although EQC initially offered a lowball offer of $30,000.
EQC decided not to reinstate the wall because Graeme did not follow the Building Act! This is from the guy who lies and tells people that he helped write the Building Act.
It wasn’t just the Walshes that complained. The Hawkes Bay City Regional Council had warned Graeme that other similar retaining walls that he designed failed to follow the Building Act and were of substandard quality.
Despite this, the EQC mafia regards Graeme as a “world authority” on engineering matters. They used him extensively to get rid of claims where people complain. His job was to minimise damage.
In some ways, Graeme is similar to John Maio. One strategy for EQC to get rid of properties that are difficult to fix so it can pad the numbers is by calling a house a leaky home or saying it is historical damage. No one tells the claimant anything. The house just gets assessed again and after waiting for many months, the claimant gets a cheque without any explanation.
EQC has received dozens of complaints about Graeme, but it will not release the number. One complaints investigator says, “The person people complain about the most is Graeme Robinson. We can’t do anything because our boss tells us that we can’t question anything he does. We just tell the claimant that we have closed their complaint and that they need to go to the Ombudsman.”
The bad publicity from The Press forced EQC to hide Graeme. Graeme doesn’t do any more inspections, but he now trains other engineers and assessors. He also is supposed to review work and he is still on $1,500 per day. EQC have also given him an EQC car and pay for his airfare.
Graeme is currently under investigation from IPENZ (Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand) because numerous people have complained. IPENZ would not talk to us, but they say they are investigating him.
Graeme has made the lives of hundreds of people a complete hell.