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RIBA London enquiry abandoned

The Charity Commission has said it will not proceed with an investigation into alleged ‘irregularities’ in the running of RIBA’s London Region

The commission was asked to investigate ‘the governance’ of the institute by London member Chris Roche, who was concerned about ‘unconstitutional and undemocratic behaviour by members and staff’ – in particular the attitude towards then RIBA London chair Azar Djamali.

Djamali resigned in April ahead of a vote of no confidence in her leadership following calls for her to stand down.

Responding to the complaint the commission said: ‘It is [our] view that the RIBA has acted reasonably in trying to resolve your concerns. I have therefore accepted that its position is appropriate. The commission will not be taking any further action in relation to this issue.’

Roche had refused to accept the terms of an enquiry into the London region issues proposed by the RIBA, meaning that investigation will not proceed either.

Roche said: ‘I am disappointed but not surprised the commission will not be carrying out an investigation into recent events within RIBA London.

‘I can only hope as a result of the commission’s enquiries that RIBA will seek to improve its policies and its relationships – but I am not optimistic.’

But former RIBA president Owen Luder, who is standing again for RIBA Council on a ‘clean up the institute’ ticket, said the commission decision does not mean the issues will go away. ‘I can’t see this as the end of the matter. Unresolved issues remain in the London region.

‘I’m surprised RIBA seems to be trying to brush this under the carpet,’ he added.

The London region will hold an AGM next month to decide its new chair.

Speaking today (24 June) Harry Rich, RIBA chief executive, said: ‘The RIBA has sought throughout these investigations to address the concerns of members with sensitivity, respect and in confidence and we are pleased to draw these matters to a close today.

‘What has become evident through this process is the breakdown in relations between some members of RIBA London Region Council. There has also been disagreement about some aspects of RIBA London Council decision making, but I can confirm that these matters have been addressed: with Dolan Conway acting as RIBA London Chair, and a new Chair to be elected shortly, we are confident that the proper functioning of RIBA London Council has been restored.

‘We hope the resolution of these matters draws a line under recent events so that RIBA London Council can operate in the interests of the London membership by supporting and contributing to the remarkable range of activities that promote architecture in the region.’

Previous story (8 April 2010)

Charity Commission investigates RIBA London concerns

Mystery surrounds an investigation launched by the Charity Commission into alleged ‘irregularities’ involving RIBA London, a regional branch of the institute

Although the RIBA confirmed it was under scrutiny by the commission, details of the allegations remain undisclosed.

The commission would only say ‘concerns’ had been raised ‘relating to the governance of the RIBA’.

A spokesperson for the RIBA said: ‘The Charity Commission has confirmed it is investigating a complaint by a RIBA member in relation to the London region. Naturally, the RIBA will work with the commission during its investigation.’

Former RIBA London chair Andrew Hanson said he ‘did not know what the complaints were about’, and the region’s current head Azar Djamali said she was ‘not in a position to comment’.

However, the AJ can reveal that a concerned regional member complained to RIBA president Ruth Reed back in November about the behaviour
of other London members.

The institute has also admitted it is carrying out an internal review after complaints were made about the recent re-selection of its adjudication panel.

The review follows an outcry from a raft of high-profile names, led by barrister Tony Bingham, which were unexpectedly culled from the institute’s long-standing list of experts.

Last month, the RIBA unveiled an ‘all-new’ list of 90 adjudicators, having received 150 applications for the lucrative work. However, Bingham told the AJ he was carrying out his own inquiry on behalf of disgruntled adjudicators into changes made to the panel.

He said: ‘[I am] carrying out an inquiry on behalf of tribunal members into changes made by the RIBA to its Adjudicator Panel. This is separate from the RIBA’s own internal review but [I have been] impressed by the willingness of the RIBA to be open and transparent.’

It is understood a further meeting to discuss ‘the next steps’ will be held at the RIBA tomorrow (9 April).

Readers' comments (1)

  • RIBA Code of Professional Conduct
    Guidance Note 1
    Conflicts of Interest
    Confidentiality and Privacy
    Corruption and Bribery

    Hmmmmmm, double standards!

    Unsuitable or offensive?

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