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Oldham and Brennan resign after ARB email blunders

The ARB board has accepted the resignations of members George Oldham and Ruth Brennan who mistakenly sent private emails to the AJ that included an attack on RIBA president Angela Brady

The two ARB Reform Group members stood down this morning at the board’s meeting in the wake of the embarrassing email blunder, which also saw Oldham refer to Stephen Lawrence Trust-backed candidates in the forthcoming ARB elections as ‘the ethnics’.

Yesterday, the ARB distanced itself from the leaked emails saying they were ‘not sent on its behalf or as part of any of its activities’. This afternoon (24 February) ARB chair Beatrice Fraenkel told the AJ: ‘George Oldham and Ruth Brennan were right to resign. It is very important that there should be no doubt as to the principles by which ARB operates.’

Reform group figurehead Oldham, an original member of the group set up in 2006, said in his email: ‘Brady’s support for the “ethnics” is as inappropriate and irrelevant as is to be expected from her.

‘I had been looking forward to returning to the civilisation of the RIBA Council from the bureaucratic inanities of the ARB. Now I’m profoundly depressed, and am simply feeling “a plague on both your houses”.’

In reply to this email, also sent to the AJ, Reform Group member Ruth Brennan, who was standing for re-election, called Brady ‘a prat’ and possibly ‘the worst ever RIBA president’. Brennan was one of five group members who petitioned Brady to back their candidacy.

Brennan said: ‘Is Ms Brady the worst ever RIBA president? I think she might be. What a prat. A plague on the RIBA indeed – at least us at the ARB are acting in a professional manner.’

Last week Brady came out in support of candidates endorsed by the Stephen Lawrence Trust, set up in memory of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence to give disadvantaged aspiring architects access to the profession.

Asked about his email, Oldham, who was due to step down next month anyway, said: ‘It doesn’t read well, I would accept that’.



The ARB told the AJ that it had not received any formal notification from Ruth Brennan that she wishes to withdraw from the forthcoming election of architect members of the Board. The Board’s Electoral Scheme provides that where a candidate withdraws after ballot papers have been circulated but before the count is completed, votes for that candidate are disregarded.

ARB chair Beatrice Fraenkel said: ‘George Oldham and Ruth Brennan were right to resign. It is very important that there should be no doubt as to the principles by which ARB operates.’




Readers' comments (1)

  • This is very sad. George Oldham has given many year's good service to the RIBA and the profession. His unfortunate comments seem out of character, but he has done the right thing to stand down. The more serious issue here is to get some resolution to the ridiculous internecine war between the RIBA and ARB.

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