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Sacked Grenfell expert convicted over misuse of title ‘architect’

The expert witness sacked by the Grenfell inquiry after it emerged he was not registered as an architect has been convicted on three counts of the criminal offence of misusing the title ‘architect’

As a result of a prosecution brought by the ARB, Westminster Magistrates’ Court slapped Priestley with a combined fine of £3,000 and ordered him to pay a further £3,240 in costs and surcharges.

The court heard earlier today (14 December) that Priestley had continued to represent himself as a UK registered and chartered architect despite not having his name on the Architects Register since 2010, contrary to section 20 of the Architects Act 1997.

His omission from the register emerged in June when Priestley was unveiled as the expert charged with investigating the architectural design of the tower’s controversial refurbishment and was asked to carry out an examination of the building works undertaken between 2014 and 2016.

After being notified that Priestley was not registered, the inquiry withdrew the instruction for him.

The three separate charges related to the John Priestley Associates’ website, which included numerous references to ‘architects’ including the statement ’John Priestley is a UK registered and Chartered Architect’, and his online business profile.

The court heard that Priestley had continued to do represent himself as a registered architect despite numerous warnings from the ARB.

According to the ARB, the defendant had been ’reluctant to engage’ with the board and had not appeared in court today.

Each offence under section 21 of the Architects Act 1997 is punishable by a maximum fine of up to £2,500. Money raised from misuse of title fines are paid to HM Treasury, and not to the ARB.

A spokesperson for the ARB said: ‘It is hoped that the criminal convictions, fines and the negative publicity associated with cases such as this will act as a deterrent for others who may use the title illegally.

In regulating misuse of the title ‘architect’ the objective of ARB is to limit the harm as swiftly and effectively as possible.  ARB will continue to monitor Priestley’s trading style and take further appropriate action as necessary.

The Grenfell Inquiry last month announced that former RIBA president Paul Hyett would replace Priestley as the probe’s architectural expert witness.