Newsletter - Links - Advertise - Contact Us - Privacy

RIAS respond to allegations of financial impropriety

February 5 2018

RIAS respond to allegations of financial impropriety
The RIAS has broken its silence on ‘concerning’ press reports enveloping the organisation by seeking to assuage its membership that governance and financial concerns are being addressed without impact on its day-to-day activities.

A Future Directions policy statement surmising events thus far sought to dispel accusations levelled by campaign body A New Chapter, insisting that it was cooperating fully with investigating authorities on allegations of impropriety.

This saw the RIAS name trustee Kerr Robertson as the individual behind widely reported investigations by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR and the police into its affairs. It wrote: “… Kerr Robertson raised concerns with OSCR, the charities regulator, and with others outside council. OSCR subsequently requested details about the accounts, constitution and operating practices of the RIAS, under their inquiry policy procedures in order that they may determine if an investigation is required.”

That request has already seen the organisation hand over the results of a confidential investigation into RIAS finances undertaken by accountants Grant Thornton, for which the RIAS has received ‘notification of receipt’ but ‘not received noti?cation of an investigation’.  

Similarly, a police complaint filed by Robertson is still in progress with the RIAS adding: “Following a complaint to Police Scotland by Kerr Robertson, the RIAS was advised in December 2017 that Grant Thornton was asked for a copy of their forensic report by Police Scotland and that was made available. No direct communication has been made with the RIAS by the police.”

Robertson was quick to dismiss the RIAS report as ‘far from being a fair account of events’, detailing one specific example of alleged malpractice to explain his actions.

In an open letter published by A New Chapter Robertson wrote of being approached by an unnamed whistleblower who alleged that an employee ‘awarded himself a bonus of £19k’ during the Festival of Architecture 2016 without notifying the board of trustees.

Robertson concluded: “I would suggest ordinary members of the RIAS should take time to reconsider what was stated in the RIAS announcement and ask the president and Council as a whole, to fully explain how they have met their ?duciary duties, and why they are so sure there has been no misuse of members funds.”

A New Chapter have already called on RIAS president Stewart Henderson to resign.


Bill S
#1 Posted by Bill S on 6 Feb 2018 at 14:16 PM
This is reading like a playground "tit-for-tat" exchange. Very embarrassing.
#2 Posted by mick on 6 Feb 2018 at 16:33 PM
Bill S you should not be embarrassed rather celebrate! Celebrate the possibility of archaic dinosaur evolving to become a dynamic chrysalis of positive purpose and meaning. Naturally such evolution involves the shredding of many layers and robes of office. So be it.
Sam Foster
#3 Posted by Sam Foster on 6 Feb 2018 at 20:57 PM
I suspect 'tit for tat exchange' may be the impression some get when reading this article, when the truth is much more sinister. A New Chapter have carried out an enormous amount of work, with incredible integrity, to bring into the open the many surrounding the governance of the RIAS. This is being done purely with a view to reforming the RIAS so it better meets the needs both of the architecture profession and clients in Scotland.

It sure ain't a playground squabble over nothing and without reform the RIAS is likely to disappear down its own manhole.
Interested and Informed
#4 Posted by Interested and Informed on 7 Feb 2018 at 10:03 AM
# While I don't mean to demean the work of A New Chapter, the person who deserves most credit for uncovering the apparent jiggerypokery at the RIAS is Kerr Roberston, now named by the RIAS. Helped by the RIAS stupidity and mishandling of the whole situation. If things change for the better, it will be due unequivocally to his work as a trustee and his incredible integrity, not A New Chapter's.
#5 Posted by Robert on 7 Feb 2018 at 11:39 AM
Kerr Robertson has played an instrumental role in uncovering what appears to be shocking malpractice at the RIAS. Its fair to say that a very necessary debate around the future of the RIAS wouldn't have happened if he hadn't stuck his head above the parapet. He should be thanked, instead he is being portrayed as a trouble maker by RIAS management.

A New Chapter are also making a valuable contribution in articulating and promoting a vision of how a future reformed RIAS could better serve the architectural profession and wider society.
Joe Beltrami
#6 Posted by Joe Beltrami on 7 Feb 2018 at 12:06 PM
Everything that #4 and #5 said.
Interested and Informed
#7 Posted by Interested and Informed on 7 Feb 2018 at 12:48 PM
This is a copy of an email written by the RIAS President and read out at Shetland Architectural Society. Containing comments absolutely unbecoming of the President of the RIAS and in my view to put pressure on Kerr Roberston. Including " doing the bidding of a Council member who hides behind their anonymity" and this beauty "caused considerable staff difficulties and stress. Two are receiving counselling"


"I understand that you have a Chapter meeting on Tuesday. I would have liked to come and update your team on what has been happening. I know you and Catriona can do so but a few thoughts might be helpful.

I have been accused of gagging Council and not responding to the self styled New Chapter. I have in fact offered to meet them but they only respond to my offer with demands which we know I can not meet for legal reasons.

The setting up of the new committee to take forward the overdue governance, the new Finance and Audit committee ( members needed, any volunteers from IAA?) will help take matters forward. The question and answer paper which should be out in the next few days, the membership survey will all help to open up genuine member lead debate. I am not willing to debate in the press with a group of people who are doing the bidding of a Council member who hides behind their anonymity .

The letter from OSCR is very welcome as it will close out this issue raised by Kerr Robertson when he thought he was not going to get his way in Council. We will answer the letter in full. It is not " an investigation of the RIAS" it is a standard OSCR response to a complaint and we welcome the chance to close this issue out. Tuscan Connell the legal experts in Scotland on charity issues are helping with this.

Kerr has also chosen to report the Incorporation to the Police. He has reported me to ARB, they have confirmed his complaint is groundless.

The Governance Group can now take a back seat and allow Karen Anderson to take things forward. The Group have endeavoured to deal with the issues we found as fairly and independently as possible. The fact that we did not respond and react to accusations without proof has taken time and caused considerable staff difficulties and stress. Two are receiving counselling but we hope with the issues surrounding Neil behind us we can rebuild their previous enthusiasm for the RIAS.

I look forward to the full involvement of the IAA with Karen's committee and your comprehensive response to the survey when it comes out.

Sorry I can not be in Inverness for your meeting but I would be happy to come up for a special meeting, perhaps with Karen Anderson and Karen Stevenson. Let me know what you think."



Stewart Henderson PRIAS

Post your comments


All comments are pre-moderated and
must obey our house rules.


Back to February 2018

Search News
Subscribe to Urban Realm Magazine
Features & Reports
For more information from the industry visit our Features & Reports section.