Grenfell Inquiry also ‘making urgent inquiries’
The Arb is investigating a complaint that an expert witness appointed to the Grenfell Inquiry this week described himself as an architect despite not being on the register for 10 years.
On his website John Priestley of John Priestley Associates called himself “a UK registered and Chartered Architect with over 30 years [sic] experience in the design and construction of a wide range of Commercial, Industrial and Residential projects”.
The website was taken down this morning.
Priestley is not on the Arb’s register of architects. A search for his company name on the Arb website appears to show that there is also no one working for him who is on the register.
It is an offence under the Architects Act to call yourself an architect in a professional setting without being on the register. If the Arb decides it is in the public interest to prosecute someone and they are found guilty, the maximum fine is £2,500.
Priestley was appointed to the Grenfell inquiry this week to produce a report “considering aspects of the architectural design in relation to the refurbishment” of the tower.
He was the first person with an architectural background to be appointed to the Grenfell Inquiry’s panel of expert witnesses, a fact which caused disquiet in the profession.
There is no suggestion that Priestley is not qualified: only that he is not registered. He is a RIBA chartered member (see below).
His website also said: “Mr Priestley has extensive technical knowledge and experience in all aspects of the building envelope and construction technology, including roofing, external walling, curtain walling and glazing, cladding, penetrating damp, condensation, internal and external finishes, flooring, fire prevention and control, sound insulation and noise control, façade cleaning, together with design and workmanship defects .
“With significant and wide ranging professional and technical background in this field, John has been instructed to provide expert evidence in construction disputes since 1985.”
A spokesperson for the Grenfell Inquiry said: “The Inquiry is making urgent inquiries to review the position in relation to John Priestley.”
An Arb spokesperson said: “Concerns have been raised with us regarding potential misuse of the title ‘architect’ in relation to John Priestley. Based on the information available at this time, we have reason to believe the individual in question is Andrew John Priestley who first came onto the Architects Register in 1987, but has not been registered since 2010. We are taking appropriate action in response to this matter.
“The titles ‘architect’ and ‘architects’ are protected in the UK. We regulate UK architects and maintain the Architects Register of individuals with the appropriate skills and qualifications to use the title. Where the individual labelled as an architect is responsible for the use of the term Arb’s objective is to investigate and stop any ongoing misuse of title as quickly as possible. We aim to be proportionate in our actions and, depending on the circumstances, we may seek satisfactory assurance that the breach will not reoccur or consider prosecution. In deciding whether prosecution is appropriate we will consider whether it in the public interest to prosecute and if there a reasonable prospect of success.”
Priestley is a RIBA chartered member. The RIBA provided this explanation for how somebody can be chartered but not registered with the Arb: “All our chartered members who been elected to membership in the UK have qualified as architects, having undertaken courses of study and passed examinations that have been prescribed or recognised by Council, which are also recognised by the Architects Registration Board. Chartered members in the UK must not practice or carry out business in the UK under any name, style or title containing the word architect or use the affix RIBA unless they are registered with the Arb. A good example would be an academic who no longer practices as an architect but is still qualified should they want to.”