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Hyett challengers ARB over whistle-blowers' charter

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Riba vice-president Paul Hyett has strongly condemned the arb's 'whistle- blower's charter' which requires architects to inform on others they suspect of breaching the arb code. It is, he says, 'corrupting of all decent and normal human relationships'. Despite representations from Hyett and concerns expressed by, among others, riba president David Rock, the arb has actually added elements to this section of the code in its redrafting, currently out for consultation.

In particular Hyett objects to a new clause to protect whistle-blowers from the laws of defamation. In a statement he was planning to read out at yesterday's council meeting, he calls it 'deeply alien to our culture and morally offensive to all decent people and institutions'. He also throws down a challenge to the arb, saying 'I refuse to accept this standard, and I retain the right to decide myself whether to report a matter involving colleagues or fellow professionals to the arb. I challenge the arb to try to make me do otherwise.'

He concludes, 'I understand the president is disturbed that the arb has not taken the riba's advice on this standard, and I know the riba is continuing to press this matter with the arb. Let us show our support for the president's position in pursuing a decent code.'

The arb has received 'very good responses' to its proposed amended code, and will consider them at its next board meeting on 23 February. Last year it successfully prosecuted five people for illegal use of title. It now has a pre-publication vetting agreement with the Yellow Pages for anybody advertising as an architect.

It also decided at its last board meeting to reject a request from the Chartered Society of Designers to support the use of the title 'interior architect' by interior designers. And it has warned employers and recruitment agencies to avoid using terms such as 'systems architect' or 'software architect' in advertisements.

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