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RIAS reforms stymied by conflicts of interest, says Scottish architects group

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Scottish architects demanding a major shake-up of the RIAS have rejected attempts by the body’s president Stewart Henderson to assuage their concerns

Yesterday, the AJ revealed that Henderson had written to the ‘A New Chapter’ group, defending separate internal RIAS reviews of salaries, probity and management practices.

The group has now shot back claiming that conflicts of interest prevent these reviews from delivering the reforms necessary to improve the running of the organisation.

Its new letter said: ‘We have consistently stated that the inquiry into the finance, governance, salaries and other matters of concern must be independent: one senior independent lead, with a clear brief, reporting to the trustees on RIAS Council – the legally responsible corporate entity.

‘Instead you have created a maze with three enquiries and other separate legal entities, all reporting to your “Governance Group”.

‘This “Governance Group”, consisting of you and a small number of past-presidents appointed by you, therefore leads and controls the process.’

The 92-strong ‘A New Chapter Group’ includes leading figures Malcolm Fraser, Charlie Hussey, Chris Platt, Helen Lucas, Jude Barber and Paul Stallan.

Last week, they delivered an open letter asking 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.

The latest letter welcomed Henderson’s admission of a lack of ‘structured governance’ and acceptance of the need for reform within RIAS.

But the group dismissed Henderson’s claim that legal issues meant that he had been unable to share full details of the internal inquiries.

It said: ‘As members, we do not hold you and your Governance Group as being independent: indeed, as it is quite possible that the results of the reviews are critical of the actions of you and these past-presidents, you and they have a clear conflict of interest and can in no way represent the interests of members or requirements of charity law and the perception will be that the “legal reasons” you state for non-disclosure are simply self-interest.’

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