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Stroud architect found guilty of serious misconduct

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The ARB's Professional Conduct Committee has found a Gloucestershire-based architect guilty on three counts of serious professional misconduct.

Douglas Gunn, a single practitioner from Stroud, was fined £500 by the committee, which said the penalty would have been greater but for the fact that two of the three transgressions occurred prior to the 1996 Architecture Act, and therefore fell outside the PCC's jurisdiction. He was cleared of two further charges.

The case concerned the renovation of a privately owned block of flats in Wotton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire, which Gunn had undertaken in 1996. The majority of the funding for the project came from Stroud District Council grants. Gunn was charged with mishandling the scheme's finances by failing to set up a separate client account for the project, and instead allowing the funds to rest in his practice account. He was accused of persuading the client this was a satisfactory set up.

He was also charged with actively misleading Stroud District Council. The ARB said Gunn had failed to inform the local authority that the contractor had cut the price of the scheme, which would have reduced the size of the council's grant.

Additionally, Gunn was charged with failing to make any serious effort to respond to complaints raised by his client, and later the ARB.

Gunn pleaded not guilty to financial impropriety, arguing he had not had the time to set up a project account due to a heavy workload. He claimed he had had nothing to do with the grants as his client had sole responsibility for these dealings. He hit back at the charge that he had not responded to complaints, saying he had dealt with all of them in a timely fashion and that the fault lay with his solicitor.

Gunn was found guilty of unprofessionally handling the client's money, failing to inform the council of the change in project cost, and failing to respond to his client's complaints. He was cleared of persuading the client to enter the payment process and failing to respond to the ARB.

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