RIBA past president Owen Luder has issued a stark personal warning to the AJ: it would be an 'absolute disaster' if the man he served under as director-general at the institute, Alex Reid, wins the election to become the new president.
Luder, who has until now remained tight-lipped about the ongoing election process at Portland Place, claimed that if the membership votes Reid into office next month, he feels sure that there will be a legal challenge made about whether or not Reid can use the initials PRIBA as an unregistered architect. And the likely publicity surrounding that will not be in the profession's interest, he argued.
In a frank account of his experiences serving as president under Reid, Luder said he felt the director-general 'did not listen, invariably had his own agenda, which he pursued relentlessly and at times deviously, and that his actions led to disputes that could and should have been avoided'.
'He doesn't have the personality, status or experience to be president, ' he warned, pointing to Reid's lack of practice. 'I feel for the RIBA and think it would be a disaster and it would also put the ARB in a difficult situation.'
Rival candidate Paul Hyett tried to take advantage of the outburst by reading out a letter written by Luder at a hustings event last week. But Reid refused to be dragged into 'personal argy-bargy' with the other candidates and said that although he does not regret standing for president, he is disappointed by the 'bitter attacks' of certain members.
Luder was reacting to what Reid described as 'differences' between the two men during his time in office. He also claimed that none of the other presidents who worked with Reid - Frank Duffy, David Rock and Marco Goldschmied - support his quest for the presidency.
Reid responded by stating that he will 'abide by the law' and not use the initials PRIBA if he both wins the presidency and fails with his registration application to the ARB. 'The more general point I'd make is that I think some people are trying to behave as if members who are not registered are some kind of second class citizen, ' he said. 'I believe there are over 1,000 such people and the RIBA has welcomed them into corporate membership.'
Reid added that Duffy had supported his candidacy and claimed that he had never criticised publicly such people as Goldschmied, Luder or Kate Macintosh, preferring to do deal with them in a 'courteous and civilised manner'.
But things got worse for Reid on Monday when the Evening Standard ran a diary item which resurrected a description of his management style made some years ago as resembling 'Ghengis Khan'. Reid said he 'had to have a broad back and take the odd insult', but will ask for a correction and apology on what he branded a damaging and incorrect later element of the story. The article said Reid had broken RIBA rules by not registering as an architect inside two years.
'That is completely wrong and I think damaging. For a director-general to break RIBA rules is a serious matter. I broke no such rule.' The ARB registers applicants within two years of them passing their Part 3 examinations but the process takes longer if that time has elapsed.
The ARB said last week it could take up to two months to process Reid's registration application, which would take the period beyond the end of the election. ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan said the ARB had asked for extra information to support the application, which Reid has said he made in order that he might be able to practice in future.
Voting on the election - Reid's rivals are Hyett and Bryan Godfrey - continues until 26 February.