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Independent probe launched into RIAS decisions

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The RIAS has commissioned an external review into historic events and decisions made by the organisation around the time its secretary and treasurer Neil Baxter unexpectedly left in late 2017

The incorporation confirmed it had instructed leading Scottish law firm Morton Fraser to carry out an independent review and shine a light on ’what took place’ within the RIAS a year and a half ago.

The AJ understands the investigation will scrutinise its 2016 accounts plus a number of key decisions, including the details of an exit agreement with Baxter, whose departure has still never been fully explained.  

His exit in November in 2017 came after the organisation had been rocked by accusations about its governance, with a group of more than 100 Scottish architects, under the banner A New Chapter, calling for a major shake-up. The architects had claimed the RIAS was poorly run, secretive and lacked both proper financial accountability and transparency.

Impetus for change gathered momentum last October when Robin Webster, who had vowed to overhaul the troubled organisation, was elected as its new president.

Speaking after his election win, Webster said: ’I want to thank everyone who voted for me, and especially my supporters, who have challenged the status quo and argued for reform within the Incorporation. I expect that from now on we will operate a transparent organisation, fully compliant with the requirements of the by-laws and meet all good governance protocols.’

However, there remain a number of unresolved issues at the 102-year-old organisation.

Police Scotland, which began making enquiries into allegations of financial irregularities at RIAS towards the end of 2017, is understood to be still investigating the organisation, as is the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) which launched a separate, formal probe into numerous aspects of the running of the body at about the same time (see AJ 08.12.17).

The RIAS has been contacted for a response about the current status of both the police and OSCR investigations.

A timetable for the Morton Fraser independent review is not yet known.

Neil baxter

The RIAS’s former secretary and treasurer Neil Baxter who left in 2017

The RIAS’s former secretary and treasurer Neil Baxter who left in 2017 after nine years

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