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ARB 'gag' sees Salisbury take board battle to court

ARB rebel Ian Salisbury was locked in a bitter legal battle with the board and its advisers this week in the run up to today's board meeting.

The RIBA presidential candidate is determined to force chief executive Robin Vaughan and chairman Humphrey Lloyd to release a series of papers to allow him to prepare for the meeting.

The pair have been intent on forcing Salisbury - who was elected on a 'pare back the ARB' ticket - to sign a confidentiality agreement that would, in part, silence his barrage of criticism against the board's activities.

The board brought in the new 'gagging' rules at its last meeting and threatened to bar members from future meetings if they refused to sign up.

But Salisbury has so far declined to agree to the rules. As a result he has been refused access to today's meeting papers and has been threatened with being thrown out during confidential parts of the meeting.

He and his solicitor have instead sent letters to both Lloyd and Vaughan warning that if they fail to send the papers to him he will take the board to a judicial review and fight the new rules in court.

However, at the time of going to press it was understood that both parties were on the verge of agreeing a stopgap measure that would avert the confrontation and allow Salisbury into the meeting.

'I deny that there has been any breach of confidentiality and I deny that I have broken any of the rules, ' Salisbury told the AJ. 'But I do not believe that I should sign up to the gagging rules because I believe they break the public interest.

'There has since been something of a breakthrough and I understand that they will be prepared to allow all board members to see the papers, ' he added.

Vaughan, however, said that the problem had been exaggerated. 'All board members were asked to confirm that the papers referring to university prescription would remain confidential and everyone agreed except Ian, ' he said.

'The board has an absolute duty to ensure that these papers remain private and confidential, ' he added.

The legal dispute is the culmination of an ongoing war of attrition between Salisbury and the establishment members of the board.

The rebel has consistently argued that the board - under the direction of Vaughan and Lloyd - has gone beyond the brief of the 1997 Architects Act and should be pared back substantially.

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