Architectural Profession Whistleblower Faces Trial

by Peter Kellow RIBA ARB in Toulouse, Occitanie, France

Architectural Profession Whistleblower Faces Trial

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I am accused by ARB of violating Professional Conduct because of a post on Facebook. I am to attend a Professional Conduct Committee on 21-2...

by Peter Kellow RIBA ARB in Toulouse, Occitanie, France

I am accused by ARB of violating Professional Conduct because of a post on Facebook. I am to attend a Professional Conduct Committee on 21-22 April 2020 to defend myself. This clear indication is that if found guilty I will be struck off the register and my career and reputation will be ruined. 

I need money to fund my attendance at the public hearing on 21-22 April 2020. I will conduct my own defence but would like to pay to take legal advice.

How can posting on Facebook be considered as Professional Conduct, good or bad? I consider the content of the post irrelevant to the legal issue but you contact me if you want details of the post

I have researched ARB cases for the last ten years and all concern what would clearly be considered professional conduct.

The RIBA are running a parallel case but their process is on hold until ARB have made their decision

This is the first time an architect has been subject to an accusation of violating Professional Conduct for an action that has not the slightest relation to professional conduct. It concerns an action that is trivial and inconsequential. So the whole concept of professional conduct has now been widened effectively to include every aspect of an architect's life and covers every moment of it

This is a test case and if ARB and the RIBA are successful then every aspect of every architect's private life will be considered as professional conduct

This is all ridiculous, of course. So what is going on? The RIBA in their accusing documents recommended I seek guidance from any members of the RIBA Council - which I did. I had a confidential conversation with one Councillor.

Upon hearing of my predicament, this Councillor immediately concluded that my professional bodies wished to expel me because of the questions I have been asking about the conduct of those who manage the RIBA, in particular the permanent staff. This did not surprise me

I made no accusations I simply asked questions. On the contrary, Owen Luder, RIBA, twice elected president, and Joseph Conteh RIBA, wrote a letter to the Times making direct accusations of mismanagement. He wrote as follows

"We are concerned that the Royal Institute of British Architects has been very badly misgoverned and financially mismanaged, certainly improperly and possibly illegally over the past decade.

"This has resulted in the acute financial problems that have had to be resolved by the large cash injection produced from the sale of a large part of the RIBA commercial company, RIBA Enterprises. Without that injection in June the RIBA would have been technically if not actually bankrupt"

I have stood for RIBA Council four times asking similar questions. I queried, for instance, the abrupt unexplained departure of former Chief Executive, My Harry Rich, and what his settlement consisted of. I received no answer and as far as I know no member has been informed of the reasons for this significant change in top management of the RIBA, and its financial consequences. 

In 2019 I did not stand but circulated my proposed Election Statement which included the following

RIBA Election Statement 2019

I and many RIBA members are frustrated by the lack of openness in the running of our institute. A current topic of major concern is the part sale of RIBA Enterprises to a Private Equity company. RIBA Enterprises is a highly profitable company with a healthy balance sheet. As a council member I will be insisting that members have a full explanation and can take control of events.  I will be asking the following

1.    Private equity has a horrendous reputation for wealth extraction and asset stripping. The private equity model makes it all wrong as a genuine partner in business. How could such a sale be even countenanced? 

2.    Why was the obvious option of a members' buy-in to acquire shares in RIBA Enterprises not considered? The purchase of shares in a profitable company which members owned would have been ideal as part of a pension plan for many. 

3.    Mr Valance, RIBA CE, is to be CE the now part-RIBA owned RIBA Enterprises. How can he perform the role of RIBA CE as a part time job? 

4.    The reason for the sale was that the RIBA Institute was in a desperate financial position on the brink of collapse. That we know, but how it arrived at this position we do not know. We require a full account

5.    What is the state of play with the Fraud Squad's investigations into the RIBA regarding nearly £1M of missing funds?

This is clearly a witch hunt. I need money to fund my attendance at the public hearing on 21-22 April 2020. I will conduct my own defence but would like to take legal advice.

For more details please contact me at peterkellow@peterkellowarchitecture.com

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