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RIAS admits to 'lack of structured governance' but insists investigations were not covered up

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The RIAS has said there has been no cover-up of the findings of investigations into how it is run

Incorporation president Stewart Henderson was responding to calls by nearly 100 Scottish architects for a shake-up of the ’self-satisfied’ and ‘bunkered’ RIAS and for the 101-year-old organisation to become more transparent, inclusive and accountable over its decision-making.

Last week, writing under the banner ‘A New Chapter’, the group including Malcolm Fraser, Chris Platt and Jude Barber delivered an open letter in which they asked for the RIAS’s independent salaries benchmarking review, the full findings of the recent probity review and the results of the independent Governance Review into existing management practices to be made public.

Henderson, in his reply to the group, admitted that the recent investigations had ’identified a lack of structured governance [which needed] to be addressed with improved management organisation and accountability measures put in place’.

However, he maintained that there had been ‘no attempt to cover up investigations’, saying there were legal reasons why the information had not yet been shared in full.

He said: ‘The Governance Group appointed by council have instructed investigations of a number of issues. These have included probity reviews, salary benchmarking and a review of governance policies. Where legally possible trustees can share details, to which they have been party. The incorporation is happy that they share details with members.’

Henderson added: ’Once legal impediments are behind us, there will be an opportunity to harness the creative energy symbolic of our membership and respond appropriately.’

The reply is unlikely to appease many of the 92 signatories to Friday’s letter – the third sent by the group to the incorporation in recent weeks – which also asked the RIAS to disclose how much its senior staff were paid in ‘recent wage rises, bonus payments and other financial benefits’.

Paul Stallan, a member of the growing ‘A New Chapter’ group, said last week: ‘The RIAS is perceived as a hollow public relations organ that has stupefied its own membership […] those who aren’t numbed by its trite positioning see it as dull, irrelevant, poor value for money and politically vacuous.

’Add recent accusations of disproportionate pay awards, squandering monies and nepotism, and it is clear that it is time for change. [It is] such a travesty, given the energy and appetite of current practice across Scotland.’

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