Serious concerns about architects are rare. On the limited occasions they do occur, as the UK regulator we are here to ensure standards, and therefore trust, in the profession is maintained. We hope the information published about conduct and competence decisions provides useful learning points for others.
Mr Peter Kellow of Peter Kellow Architecture, Toulouse, France, has been found guilty of unacceptable professional conduct (UPC) following a hearing of ARB’s independent Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) on 12 and 13 August 2020.
The PCC concluded that, in the interest of the reputation of the profession, Mr Kellow’s name should be removed from the Architects Register. As he is no longer registered with ARB, he cannot legally practise as an architect in the UK.
ARB alleged that Mr Kellow had written an inappropriate public post on his Facebook profile on 13 April 2019. In the post Mr Kellow denied the existence of the Jewish race and referred to Jews, Sunni Muslims and other groups as members of a ‘cult’ that should be subject to restrictions, banned from important public office, and subject to registration. ARB argued that in doing so he had acted against Standards 1, 9 and 12 of the Architects Code.
Mr Kellow attended the hearing but chose not to be legally represented. In his written submissions, he stated the allegation concerned matters that fell outside of ARB’s remit, saying “the code concerns strictly professional conduct in the architect’s course of engagement on a specific job”. He referred to the PCC as a “kangaroo court”.
The PCC found the allegation proved under Standards 9 and 12, but concluded Standard 1 had not been breached. Although the matter did not occur in the course of Mr Kellow’s architectural practice, the PCC considered his conduct had the potential to cause offence and bring both himself and the profession into disrepute. The PCC considered his comments represented a serious departure from the standard expected of an architect and amounted to unacceptable professional conduct.
When considering the sanction, the PCC noted Mr Kellow had no previous adverse regulatory findings and had removed the post from his Facebook profile. However, the Committee also acknowledged he had shown no remorse and insisted he stood by the views expressed in the post. It considered Mr Kellow lacked any meaningful insight into the impact of his comments and was mindful of the need for members of a profession to act fairly and without discrimination. It concluded that Mr Kellow’s conduct was fundamentally incompatible with remaining on the Register and that erasure was the proportionate sanction to impose.
A copy of the decision can be found here.
Notes for Editors
• The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest.
Among other duties, the Act requires ARB to:
– Maintain the Architects Register
– Prescribe the UK qualifications needed to become an architect in the UK
– Issue a code laying down the standards of professional conduct and practice expected of architects
– Investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence
– Investigate and where appropriate prosecute unregistered individuals who unlawfully call themselves an architect
– Act as the UK’s Competent Authority for architects
• ARB has a Board of 11 members all appointed by the Privy Council. This includes one lay, non-executive Chair and ten non-executive Board members made up of five members of the public and five architects.
• The PCC is established under Schedule 1, Part II of the Architects Act and is required to consider any report referred to it. The PCC determines whether an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence.
Where a guilty finding is made, the PCC will consider whether to make a disciplinary order, which means:
– a reprimand
– a penalty order
– a suspension order (to a maximum of 2 years); or
– an erasure order
• Money raised by fines imposed by the Professional Conduct Committee is paid to HM Treasury.
• ARB has an Information Pack detailing its key messaging intended for use by the press and other stakeholders.
For further information please contact Kate Howlett (ARB Communications Manager) by email at email@example.com or 020 7580 5861.