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Architect demands ARB apology

An architect cleared of seven charges of serious professional incompetence has spoken of his 'personal hell' as he battled to prove his innocence.

A fortnight ago, 62-year-old Anthony Rodgers was found not guilty on all counts by the ARB's professional conduct committee in a case that Rodgers believes 'should never have been brought' (AJ 21.4.05).

Now the architect, who has been in practice for 35 years, is demanding an apology, after being put through a year of emotional and financial misery.

'The whole thing was trumped-up rubbish and I certainly don't intend to let it lie,' he said.

'It was handled appallingly by the ARB. Now it's over, I feel extreme anger that I was ever put through such an experience.'

Rodgers - a partner at Market Harborough-based practice B+R Partnership and a former Part 3 examiner at De Montfort University - was dragged before the committee for failing to check whether a plumber on a scheme in Rutland was Corgi registered.

However, Rodgers feels the odds were stacked against him from the beginning.

He said: 'The ARB starts from the basis that you are guilty. Someone should have said, 'hang on a bit', before they let the dogs out.

'Some of the charges were the same as those that would face an architect who was a criminal. For that to be levelled at me was totally unacceptable,' he added.

The defence costs have already run into 'many, many thousands of pounds' - most of which he will never see again.

'I'm a partner in a 20-strong practice. But, if I was a sole practitioner, the time and cost to prove my innocence could have been utterly catastrophic,' Rodgers said.

The trauma has also affected his health. Late on the first day of the hearing, after a two-and-a-half hour interrogation, the case had to be adjourned because Rodgers was suffering from chest pains.

The architect's representative, former RIBA president Paul Hyett, was also appalled by the handling of the case. He said: 'The ARB cannot continue to operate with such staggering incompetence.

'It is not enough to rely on the intelligence of its professional committee - whether it finds for or against an architect.

'What is important is that cases are properly assessed at the time of complaint.

'The work of the ARB prosecutor and solicitor advocate should form a competent and reliable basis upon which those cases that should proceed will proceed - and that those cases, like this one, are narrowed to the issues that really matter, or are discontinued,' Hyett added.

by Richard Waite

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