Former RIBA president Angela Brady has joined an army of architects calling for the institute to revoke the honorary fellowship it awarded to Boris Johnson when she was at the helm
Brady – who chaired the RIBA Honours Committee in 2011 when it recognised Johnson’s ‘enormous contribution’ to architecture – signed a letter urging the institute to take the title back.
Johnson was mayor of London when he was made an honorary fellow, and Brady was president of the RIBA. Now prime minister, Johnson is under the spotlight after the Supreme Court ruled his decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks in the run-up to the UK’s scheduled departure from the EU was unlawful.
The far-reaching verdict came just days after the Scottish Court of Session also found Johnson’s advice to the queen to prorogue Parliament was unlawful.
Brady and fellow 2011 RIBA Honours Committee panellist Sarah Wigglesworth – as well as scores of leading architects – have demanded the honorary fellowship be revoked in light of the court findings.
Their letter – which will be presented to RIBA Council next week – points to the terms of reference of the honours committee, which outline a ‘fit and proper person’ test. Under this test, the institute says it will consider recommending revocation of an honorary fellowship if its recipient does not ‘act with honesty, integrity and legality at all times’.
Immediate past RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said discussion of Johnson’s fellowship was ‘inevitable’ at next week’s council meeting.
’After [Wednesday] night’s Commons debate, it’s clear his behaviour fails to meet the standards in our new code of conduct for members,’ Derbyshire wrote on Twitter before adding: ‘Sadly this does not apply to honorary posts.’
Walter Menteth, founder of London practice Walter Menteth Architects, organised the campaign to revoke the fellowship.
‘Individual architects, the RIBA as its professional institute and the representatives of our collective professionalism subscribe to behaviour that is lawful, proper and befitting,’ he said.
‘In our long history as a profession, no individual has or can be seen to be above those standards. When the public responsibility of professions and institutions is being tested, no benefit is to be had for democratic civil society by professions and institutions not sustaining the consistent application of those standards.
‘I would hope RIBA Council will reconfirm the institute’s integrity and do what is fit and proper. From the multiple evidence, it seems to me, unequivocally, that it is only right that the institute revoke this honour.’
Other signatories of the letter include Julia Barfield of Marks Barfield, RIBA co-vice president for students and associates Simeon Shtebunaev, long-standing Brexit critic Piers Taylor and celebrated social-housing architect Kate Macintosh.
Readers wanting to add their names can email firstname.lastname@example.org before midday on Tuesday 1 October, stating clearly any RIBA or other professional suffix.
The RIBA has been contacted for comment.