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Expert witness in Koolhaas case battles to save career

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The discredited expert witness at the centre of a failed plagiarism claim against Rem Koolhaas has this week been fighting to save his reputation.

Michael Wilkey, who was condemned by the High Court judge who heard the controversial case, has been appearing before the ARB's Professional Conduct Committee (PCC).

But Wilkey's expert witness has offered a vehement defence, firmly backing the conclusion that Koolhaas was indeed guilty of the charge. The PCC was yet to deliver its ruling as the AJ went to press.

The case against Koolhaas, which appeared before the High Court in November 2001 (AJ 8.11.01), centred on accusations from Welsh architect Gareth Pearce that the Dutchman had plagiarised his designs.

Pearce claimed that Koolhaas had stolen his drawings and incorporated ideas into his plans for the Kunsthal art gallery in Rotterdam. In delivering his ruling that Koolhaas was not guilty, Jacob launched a savage attack against Wilkey, accusing him of incompetence.

But in a report produced for this week's PCC hearing, expert witness Ian Salisbury has argued that the chance of the two designs being as similar as they are is 'one in 125 billion, or equivalent to the chance of the average person dropping dead within the next 13 milliseconds'. The chance of winning the jackpot in the Lottery is only one in 13 million.

Salisbury, who has extensive experience as an expert witness, criticises the judge's decision to visit the finished Kunsthal building, rather than solely examining the drawings, as is customary in copyright cases.

'It is my opinion that the design of the Kunsthal was copied from Mr Pearce's drawings, ' his report concludes.

Salisbury was reluctant to comment on the case. Since the PCC cannot provide the protection offered by a court, both Salisbury and Wilkey could be open to the charge of slander from Koolhaas' lawyers.

To learn the PCC result, visit www. ajplus. co. uk

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