An expert witness who claimed to be an architect but had not been on the ARB register since 2010 has been removed from his role on the Grenfell fire inquiry
Earlier this week John Priestley of John Priestley Associates was unveiled as the expert charged with investigating the ‘architectural design’ of the tower’s controversial refurbishment and had been asked to carry out a detailed examination of the building works undertaken between 2014 and 2016.
But his appointment on Wednesday (20 June) was quickly overshadowed after the Architects Registration Board launched an investigation into Priestly’s potential misuse of the title ‘architect’.
Despite numerous references to ‘architects’ on his website, including the statement ‘John Priestley is a UK registered and Chartered Architect’, it emerged he had not been on the ARB register for the last eight years.
The webpage has since been taken down.
The ARB told the AJ it had acted ‘in response to concerns raised with us regarding potential misuse of the title “architect’’’.
An ARB spokesperson said: ‘Based on the information available at this time, we have reason to believe the individual in question is Andrew John Priestley who first came on to the Architects Register in 1987, but has not been registered since 2010. We will be taking appropriate action in response to this matter.’
A Grenfell Tower Inquiry spokesperson told the AJ: ‘All expert witnesses instructed by the inquiry are expected to comply with any relevant provisions and professional codes of conduct. Before he was instructed, John Priestley confirmed he was a UK registered and chartered architect.
‘Following the receipt of information that Priestley is not currently registered with the ARB, the inquiry has withdrawn his instruction as an expert witness.’
According to the Grenfell inquiry’s ‘expectation of expert witnesses’, those who are called to give an opinion on matters that call for expert skill and knowledge ‘owe the inquiry a duty to exercise reasonable care and skill [and] must also comply with any relevant professional code of ethics’.
The ARB added: ‘The titles “architect” and “architects” are protected in the UK. We regulate UK architects and maintain the architects register of individuals with the appropriate skills and qualifications to use the title. Where the individual labelled as an architect is responsible for the use of the term, ARB’s objective is to investigate and stop any ongoing misuse of title as quickly as possible.
‘We aim to be proportionate in our actions and, depending on the circumstances, we may seek satisfactory assurance that the breach will not reoccur, or consider prosecution. In deciding whether prosecution is appropriate we will consider whether it in the public interest to prosecute and if there a reasonable prospect of success.’
It is understood the ARB’s investigation will remain ongoing. Earlier this year a Luton man was ordered to pay almost £30,000 after illegally calling himself an architect.
The inquiry said a replacement for Priestley will be appointed in due course ’based on suitability’.
Priestley has not responded to requests for a comment.
A response from the RIBA: how can someone be an RIBA chartered member and not registered with the ARB?
All our chartered members who been elected to membership in the UK have qualified as architects, having undertaken courses of study and passed examinations that have been prescribed or recognised by council, which are also recognised by the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Chartered members in the UK must not practise or carry out business in the UK under any name, style or title containing the word ‘architect’ or use the affix ‘RIBA’ unless they are registered with the ARB.
A good example would be an academic who no longer practises as an architect but is still qualified should they want to.
John priestley web page