Elsie Owusu, who lost to Alan Jones in the race to become the next RIBA president, has called on him to launch an independent review of the institute’s management and finances
Owusu came second to the Northern Irish architect and academic in the battle to replace Ben Derbyshire, following a headline-grabbing campaign which saw her repeatedly criticise the institute in the national and trade press.
As well as hitting out at the salary of £200,000-a-year RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance, she also reported the institute to the police, accusing the organisation of mislaying £1.1 million of members’ funds over its refurbishment of 76 Portland Place.
It is a claim the RIBA has vehemently denied, stating that the Charity Commission had already found no wrongdoing over its accounting.
However, in a statement released this morning after her election defeat, she said: ’Concerns that have been raised during this campaign cannot be dismissed lightly.
‘I call on our new president to allow a thorough police investigation to be completed before the sale of RIBA Enterprises, and to appoint an independent auditor to review the organisation’s management and finance.’
She added: ’It is also my hope that an independent investigation into the recent administrative challenges and failings at RIBA will give the charity a clean bill of health while providing the transparency and openness necessary to build confidence as we move forward.’
Owusu, who was voted onto national council during the elections, told the AJ she was planning to stand again for president in 2020 but was now looking forward to working alongside Jones and ’seeing his plans and actions to deliver much-need change, for both the Institute and the profession’.
She said: ’I am really encouraged by the level of discussion about the important issues on equality, diversity and inclusion raised during this election. I will continue to campaign for these on behalf of those who have voted for me, urging our new president to deliver change based on openness, transparency accountability, with a special focus of the interests of the members.’
Responding to Owusu’s comments RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said: ’The RIBA is serious about improving access to the profession and ensuring all members feel represented and equal. I’m confident that all our election candidates and the membership of RIBA are agreed that positive change on equality, diversity and inclusion is vital.
’It’s right that our members have strong views about the institute and the profession’s future and it is a sign of a healthy organisation to see them openly debated. Now the election process is over, it is time for all RIBA trustees and staff to pull together on the things we can all agree on: ensuring that the profession is open to anyone with passion and talent, regardless of their background, and that the RIBA remains relevant and fit for the future.
’There have been a number of inaccurate statements published about the RIBA’
he added ’In the last few weeks, there have been a number of inaccurate statements published about the RIBA. Completely unfounded allegations have been made about our financial management and reports have been published which do not fairly reflect the RIBA’s absolute commitment and actions to increase diversity and inclusion in the architecture profession and in the Institute itself.
’Our accounts are always independently audited and approved by RIBA trustees who have fiduciary responsibility for our financial decisions. I want to be absolutely clear that the RIBA is financially robust, supported by an expert executive team, democratically run and open to all.’