Top defense scientist caught in lies

Jan. 28, 2011 at 1:33 PM
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- New Zealand's intelligence service did not follow "basic procedures" in investigating a defense scientist who lied about his background, officials said.

British-born Stephen Wilce was made the head of New Zealand's Defense Technology Agency in 2005 and given a top-level security clearance, but was later found to have made false claims about his former military work, academic qualifications and life experience, the BBC reported Friday.

Wilce resigned in September 2010 after it was revealed he had falsely claimed to be a former Royal Marine and to have raced in an Olympic bobsled event against the Jamaican team depicted later in the movie "Cool Runnings."

Wilce allegedly also told colleagues he had served as a helicopter pilot with Prince Andrew and been a spy with British Intelligence.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key ordered an investigation by the State Services Commission, which said the security vetting of Wilce was inadequate.

"The report finds the vetting process in respect of Mr. Wilce failed to follow basic procedures in the provision of a professional security service," Key said.

Wilce reportedly told investigators he had been telling exaggerated tales about himself since childhood.

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