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RIBA communications chief Konzotis in vanishing act

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The riba's internal politicking and power struggles began to resemble a Whitehall farce last week when communications chief Roula Konzotis left under a cloud of intrigue and was asked back to work barely a week later.

Konzotis was summoned to the office of director general Alex Reid on Monday, 27 March, and left Portland Place immediately afterwards, fuelling unsubstantiated rumours in the profession that she had been dismissed. As the aj went to press on Tuesday, however, after a policy management board meeting specially called on the Friday before to hear Reid's explanation of the matter, the institute issued a terse, single-sentence statement to clarify the situation.

'The riba would like to confirm that Roula Konzotis remains in the institute's employment as director of communications', read the statement, 'with responsibility to the director general and the policy management board for the communications department and for the implementation of the communications strategy recently approved by the riba Council.

The institute reiterated that at no time had Konzotis been sacked, and rejected rumours that a row over her communications strategy lay behind the affair. It is understood that the reasons were more to do with a clash of staff and members and a complex question of who reports to whom - hence the wording of the statement. Konzotis' period at home was officially 'paid absence' and stretched until Wednesday, 5 April, when she was expected back. Konzotis, a former drama teacher and management consultant, only started last August, and since then had her appointment ratified once after three months and again after six.

Reid has said he will leave his post as dg early, probably this summer, and become a consultant rather than continue at Portland Place until January. riba president Marco Goldschmied said that so far around 70 people 'from an extremely wide range, geographically and in terms of background', have applied for the £100,000-a-year chief executive officer post. Goldschmied hopes to take a name to riba Council on May 15.

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