The circumstances surrounding the ‘serious incident’ which resulted in RIBA president Alan Jones stepping down from his post are being investigated by police in Northern Ireland, it has emerged
While no further details of the police inquiry have been given, the AJ understands that a string of concerns which could ‘damage’ the institute and the office of RIBA president are separately being examined by law firm Browne Jacobson as part of its inquiry on behalf of the RIBA, including Jones’ possible exposure to blackmail.
According to a story published in The Times earlier this month, Jones feared an unnamed woman would reveal embarrassing details of their alleged extramarital affair and stood down for four to six weeks from 31 March amid questions over whether he had abused his position as RIBA president or used RIBA funds to further the affair.
Several unnamed sources close to the institute have now told the AJ that the episode was sparked when Jones received a private tweet on 8 March from the woman with whom he’d conducted the alleged affair. He then notified the RIBA of this communication and divulged the nature of the relationship.
Contacted by the AJ, the Metropolitan Police confirmed it had received a report from a ‘third party’ about ‘malicious communications’ involving ‘a man’ – understood by the AJ to be Jones – on 12 March. As the alleged victim was a man from Northern Ireland, he was advised to contact the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Met added.
A spokesperson for the PSNI confirmed it had received a report on 17 March, adding that ‘enquiries are continuing’.
The AJ previously reported that the RIBA had notified the Charity Commission of a ‘serious incident’ involving its president.
It is understood that specific concerns now being investigated by Browne Jacobson include:
- Potential exposure to blackmail, given Alan Jones’ alleged relationship with the unnamed woman
- Potential breach of confidentiality, given some of the woman’s social media posts about the RIBA
- Possible abuse of Jones’ position as president and previously as vice-president of education in relation to the woman, who may be ‘vulnerable’ and may have been seeking career assistance
- Potential misuse of RIBA resources by Jones in aid of the relationship
- Possible failure by Jones to disclose the relationship when this individual was being discussed within the RIBA
- Possible breaches of the RIBA Code of Conduct by Jones in relation to ‘personal integrity’
- Given the concerns above, ‘significant risk’ of damage to the RIBA and the office of president.
RIBA honorary secretary Kerr Robertson said: ‘RIBA President Alan Jones has brought a matter to our attention which we are investigating.
‘No complaint has been made [to the RIBA]. It wouldn’t be appropriate for the RIBA to comment further at this stage – we have an obligation to treat such matters fairly and confidentially’.
Alan Jones declined to comment when approached by the AJ. Browne Jacobson also declined to comment.