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Police probe alleged financial irregularities at RIAS

Rias crest crop

Police Scotland has confirmed it is making enquiries into allegations of financial irregularities at the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)

In recent weeks the body has been rocked by accusations about its governance with a group of nearly 100 Scottish architects, under the banner A New Chapter, calling for a major shake-up, claiming the RIAS was poorly run, secretive and lacking proper financial accountability.

At the end of November its secretary and treasurer since 2008, Neil Baxter, unexpectedly quit the organisation.

Then, at the beginning of this month, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) began its own formal probe into numerous aspects of the running of the 101-year-old body (see AJ 08.12.17).

Now a Police Scotland spokesman has said it too is investigating Scotland’s leading architecture body following a complaint. The spokesman said: ‘In October 2017, Police Scotland received a report of possible financial irregularities at a professional institute. Enquiries are at an early stage and officers continue to establish if any criminality has taken place.’

In an email sent to its members yesterday (14 December) the RIAS admitted that a ’system of decision making [had] developed that [was] not supported by a robust policy framework’ and that the findings of a recent governance review had ’identified a lack of structured governance and accountability’. 

The email went on to acknowledge that OSCR was demanding answers on various issues, adding: ’All of those questions can and will be answered. The RIAS president and council will work fully and openly with OSCR to ensure full compliance with their requests and the obligations of RIAS as a charitable body.

’Governance reviews of this kind are entirely commonplace in organisations such as ours, particularly Royal Charter bodies. Given the context to RIAS structure - a one-hundred-year-old Charter, an historic constitution with a number of committees - this review will take time to complete.’

The RIAS also announced that its council had established ’interim committees’ to consider the direction of the Incorporation and work on updating governance.

The email continued: ’These committees will have responsibility for ensuring there are the right checks and balances in place in relation to RIAS accounting and will be responsible for co-ordinating the arrangements for appointing a new CEO, updating policy and developing new structures to actively involve members.’

The RIAS has been contacted for a response about the police investigation.

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