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Freedom of expression lesson for the ARB

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So Yasmin Shariff thinks Salisbury should resign from the ARB for being outspoken (News, AJ 19.2.04). In fact, the ARB paved the way for this by resolving that members must not discuss or call into question any matter decided by the board, even if that information is already in the public domain.

All of the press reporting fails to mention the implications of the Human Rights Act 1998, which was discussed by the board at its meeting and ignored. Section 6 (1) states: 'It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.' Article 10 of the Convention safeguards the freedom of expression. The only relevant restriction is the prevention of disclosing information received in confidence. But as the resolution extends to information debated in the open session of the ARB board meetings, this qualification does not apply.

The restriction of the freedom of expression of our elected members subverts the democratic representation the profession is entitled to from the ARB under the Architects Act 1997. This goes beyond all allegations of impropriety that the ARB has faced to date.

Elected board members need to be reminded that being outspoken does not make someone unfit to serve as a board member.

Passing resolutions in contravention of the law might.

Mark Benzie, London EC1R

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