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Former RIBA president joins call to revoke Boris’s fellowship

Shutterstock boris johnson crop

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 revokeribahon@gmail.com before midday on Tuesday 1 October, stating clearly any RIBA or other professional suffix.

The RIBA has been contacted for comment.


Readers' comments (24)

  • Gosh he will be quaking in his boots if it gets revoked

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  • It will be the death knell of his premiership...

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  • test

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  • It won't be too healthy for the RIBA if they fudge this one - I hadn't been aware of the man's 'enormous contribution' to architecture (I wonder if this would stand close examination?) or of the bestowal of the honorary fellowship, and it's surely rather surprising that his garden bridge antics haven't already caused disquiet - or maybe they have?
    Or could it be that someone perceived to have very considerable powers of patronage in London has been schmoozed by the RIBA?

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  • Industry Professional

    Originally when I raised the question at Council in 2018, the issue of Honorary Fellows was connected with the improper actions around the Garden Bridge scandal, and even then in my view could've been enough of a reason to rescind the Hon Fellowship of the ones involved in the process.

    The amount of other action which this particular member has engaged since, do violate the RIBA fit and proper test, therefore the Hon Fellowship should be revoked, such as acting unlawfully and being found to act without integrity.

    Simeon Shtebunaev

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  • As the full text of this call to the RIBA doesn’t yet appear to have been uploaded, you can find it here:
    On LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/walter-menteth_riba-rias-arb-activity-6583340146027036672-RjGP
    On Twitter: https://twitter.com/WalterMenteth/status/1177565882781970432?s=20

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  • To "Anon" and "Number 5", I am not sure the point of this is to be the *thing* which stops Johnson for good.

    It's just a matter of ethics and responsibility. Having considered the points made by the petition, should it be that Johnson has the ethics which suit the honorary position? It will probably not be reported outside of architectural press, and have not a jot of difference to the bigger scheme of things, and that's fine and irrelevant. But what are the ethics of RIBA, that's still quite important if the institution is to have any value to its members.

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  • "Former RIBA president Angela Brady has joined an army of architects"
    Ah !
    I hadn't realised this was the collective noun for architects.

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  • ’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.’

    New code of conduct not ‘fit for purpose’.? Time to ‘revoke ‘ that too?

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  • So, the Supreme Court invented a new law, which Boris was found to have retrospectively contravened. And the new law goes against the precedent set over hundreds of years.

    Brady and her Remainiac chums throw a tizzy fit, spit their dummies out and demand Boris be stripped of his honorary fellowship. Obviously, his dire professional standards in having the temerity to follow through on a democratic vote and be painfully frank in addressing MP's who's behaviour borders upon treason and treachery, goes strictly against their blinkered values and morals.

    Can I please call "Humbug" on Brady's statement ;-)

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  • I can't think of a bigger waste of time than getting embroiled in this. Its just time wasting by the left leaning London Bubble members of the profession. I'd far rather the RIBA got on with promoting the benefits of employing an architect rather than raising this honour that's unknown in the public eye into that arena, which could end up embroiling the next presidency just like the pointlessly distracting Africa debacle embroiled Hodder's. However, let it be a lesson for the future: don't give honours to politicians, its too controversial and their standing can rapidly change, and is irrelevant to the health and prospects of the profession.

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  • Concentrate on climate change and promoting architects and leave racist, mysogynist, bullying, loud-mouthed, corrupt, rich public school boys to their own fate.

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  • Come on Louis, get off the fence!

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  • I second Ian Morrsion's 'Humbug' call on Brady's statement.
    And who is this 'army' of architects that Brady claims to exist?
    The RIBA should stay out of party politics.

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  • MacKenzie Architects

    Judge & Jury now are we, how glorious.
    I don't care about whether Boris has or has not an Honorary anything, these type of things seem more about the awarders' opinion of themselves * than the awardee, and should be handed out very sparingly -at the end of a career.

    To seek to withdraw it, just reeks of the same * -we are just Architects, and barely that. Get over yourselves.

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  • Personally, I prefer Butterscotch to Humbugs, the Garden Bridge wasted £40m, and squeezing people’s thighs under the dinner table rarely has the desired outcome?

    It’s now a cliche, But Keep Calm and Carry On? Brexit will happen, and the world will keep turning; so keep doing your best for all our clients. Bugger Boris and Bognor Regis? Or rescind the “Regis” title??

    Woke up Snowflakes? Or is that just too horrid?

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  • Does the code of conduct not apply to Fellows, despite being gifted their post nominals? Boris Johnson ( Hon. FRIBA )

    9.1 Members must ensure that all marketing and
    promotional material used to promote their
    services is:
    (a) legal, decent and truthful;
    (b) fair to others; and
    (c) accurate in respect of the level of
    expertise and resources being offered
    by the Member.

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  • In response to Ian Morrison’s comment above. If you think that the Supreme Court created a new law, you need to actually read their judgement. They have merely upheld a long standing principle of law and parliamentary practice which had not been tested in this way before. Since the piece is about integrity - please check your own.

    But your argument about this all whiffing of the Remainiac ‘elite’ is valid, though I don’t agree with it.

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  • I'm on the offence, Paul

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  • As an ex-public schoolboy, I take offence at Louis remarks, which amount to person abuse. Most of us are jolly decent fellows!

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  • Tom’s right...the SC have not created a new law, they have just upheld the rule of law. Boris abused the royal prerogative and was slapped down by the judiciary. Power checking power to avoid dictatorship.

    The British constitution is written down, but in myriad different places (eg Magna Carta, 1689 Bill of Rights etc). Ultimately parliament is sovereign and must vote to leave the EU or not. It is unlawful and unconstitutional for such a decision to be made by some daft and half-baked plebiscite, which was meant to be for approval only.

    We can not leave the EU lawfully unless parliament votes to do so in a representative democracy. Any attempt to leave without this will be null and void, and as if it never happened. Remainers will continue to abide by EU law in their daily lives and refuse to recognise an unlawful UK government. They could also eat baguettes and croissants instead of full English breakfasts, and drive on the right to cause civil chaos until their demands are heard, and we rejoin the EU.

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  • The Court of Session is now being asked to consider whether the Prime Minister could be jailed if he takes the UK out of the EU without a deal.
    In the hopefully unlikely event that this comes to pass - and the RIBA didn't consider him to be a political prisoner (forget 'prisoner of conscience') his incarceration might provide a convenient excuse for dumping him without getting bogged down in tortuous debate.

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  • Lying to the queen must rank as treason, so off with his head. Don’t put him in jail, because he will just write his memoirs at our expense, like Jeffrey Archer. He was born in the USA...booorn in the U...S...A! So, can we repatriate him and maybe they can exile him on Ellis Island, so he can’t cause any more damage.

    Reckon the Irish Teashop has it about right though...the three year party is over and the hangover is coming. All the polls indicate that we want to Remain. If a clown like BoJo wants to Leave, it must be one of the worst ideas on the planet. Donald, please give this guy a green card so he can be your running mate in 2020. Rory Stewart for London mayor!

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  • Come in, number five - time you either grow up or stay in the nursery.

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