Bill Morris, one of the biggest hitters in the trade union movement, is one of three new appointments to the board of the Architects Registration Board.
Morris is the first black board member and is a high-profile, likeable heavyweight, said acting chair Owen Luder: 'The ARB is all about dealing with people: architects, clients and consumers, and he has a lifetime's experience to offer.'
Luder said the ARB was delighted with the choice, which is made by Privy Councillors on the advice of the DTLR. The ARB has no say on who is appointed to its board. 'We've seen and heard him on the news and he's a very balanced sort of person and ideal for the ARB.'
Morris has been general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union since 1991 and is a non-executive director of the Bank of England.
ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan said the appointment of an Afro-Caribbean board member inevitably sent out the right message 'when you think of the criticisms made of the profession'.
But he said: 'He is a man of huge repute and eminence and that is the message that should come from his joining the board. The fact that he's a black man is neither here nor there.'
Former RIBA president Marco Goldschmied agreed and also welcomed the appointment of the second new board member, Jane Rees. She served as an acting registrar of ARB from 1999 to 2000 and 'was always on the ball', said Goldschmied.
Rees, a regulatory consultant, was a registrar and secretary of the Insurance Brokers Registration Council from 1986 to 1998. The third appointee, independent consultant Freida Stack, was most recently the deputy parliamentary secretary of the Co-operative Parliamentary Office.