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Struck off architect to sue ARB

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An architect who was struck off by the ARB is to launch legal proceedings against the organisation’s professional complaints committee (PCC)

Andrew Plumridge, who was found guilty in his absence of ‘unacceptable professional conduct’ in a dispute resulting from minor building works to house in Sunningdale, Berkshire, called the ARB’s action against him a ‘lynching’ and said he intended to sue over what he alleged was the ‘wholly biased and unjust manner’ in which it was conducted.

The architect from Newbury was erased from the ARB register by the PCC for a ‘malicious and discreditable attempt to impugn [a client’s] reputation, intimidate the complainant from pursuing [ARB] proceedings […] and demonstrating a severe lack of integrity and professionalism’.

In addition, the committee decided that Plumridge had breached the Architect’s Code of Conduct in failing to disclose ‘a close personal relationship’ with the builder on the project, creating a potential conflict of interest to his client.

A furious Plumridge told the AJ: ‘I fully intend to appeal against the substantive finding of fact, which is wrong; the sanction, which is wholly disproportionate; and the procedure, which was not fair in the circumstances.’

Plumridge had repeatedly denied the allegations but had informed the board that he would not be attending the PCC hearing last week on the basis that evidence in defence might prejudice a forthcoming High Court case on a separate matter. A previous hearing in October was adjourned because Plumridge was having treatment for cancer.

The builder, J G Restorations, has also threatened legal action against the ARB over the handling of the case and what it claims are libelous comments made in the press statement the ARB released following the decision.

In a letter to the ARB, a representative of J G Restorations wrote: ‘We are staggered by [the ARB’s] failure to complete due diligence and we question the effectiveness and legitimacy of your investigation and hearing process, which is clearly a shambles.

‘Much of your statement is libelous and unjustified, and your comments about us are completely unfounded. As such we hereby give notice of our intention to commence legal action against you.’

Responding to the threat of legal action, the ARB’s professional standards manager, Simon Howard, said: ‘The position is as set out in the decision of the PCC, which gives full reasons as to why Plumridge was erased from the register. We won’t be making any further comment on this matter.’

It will be the third time in recent months that architects have appealed against the ARB’s PPC. 

Earlier this year Manchester-based architect Faheem Aftab was re-instated on the register after winning a rare appeal victory against a decision to erase him from it.

And last month George Oldham said he would take his case to the High Court after being found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct over an email in which he referred to Stephen Lawrence Trust-backed ARB election candidates as ‘the ethnics’.

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