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Call to strip Boris Johnson of honorary fellowship

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RIBA, members' letter, Boris Johnson, strip honorary fellowship, “We are aware of the concerns that have been raised,” a spokesperson said.

Members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), including a past president, have signed a letter calling for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to be stripped of his honorary fellowship, Dezeen reported recently.

The call came after the British Supreme Court found Johnson’s suspension of parliament to be unlawful and ruled that his advice to the Queen to prorogue parliament was unlawful.

As well as the unlawful suspension of parliament, the letter notes ‘reported comments widely construed as denigrating to women and ethnic minorities’ from the prime minister and ‘matters of propriety and conflict of interest’ form part of its case for removing the honorary title.

Johnson is currently under investigation from the Greater London Authority over his failed Garden Bridge project.

He has also been referred to a police watchdog over accusations of misconduct regarding favours granted to a businesswoman while he was mayor.

And he came under fire for his language when parliament reconvened, where he dismissed an MP’s fears about the effects of the language being used around Brexit leading to violence as “humbug“.

Johnson was made an Honorary Fellow of RIBA in 2011 for making an ‘enormous contribution’ to architecture during his eight-year tenure as the mayor of London.

As mayor he was involved with several high profile architecture and design projects, including a redesign of the London Routemaster buses by Thomas Heatherwick, the ArcelorMittal Orbit tower, London’s cycle sharing scheme and the Emirates Air Line cable car.

A former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Angela Brady, is among those who have called for Johnson to be stripped of the title, and Ben Derbyshire, president from September 2017 until September 2019, said a discussion on the matter was “inevitable”.

Former RIBA Honours Committee panellist Sarah Wigglesworth, who was part of the team that awarded Johnson the membership in the first place, is one of the letter’s signatories, as are London Eye architect Julia Barfield, the Dean of the Pratt Institute School of Architecture Harriet Harriss, Peter Barber, Charles Holland and Piers Taylor.

‘Honesty’, along with ‘integrity and competence’ are the three key tenants of the RIBA code of professional conduct. Johnson is not bound by the code, but RIBA members have claimed his actions has bought the institution into disrepute.

The letter calling for the honour to be stripped from the prime minister was presented at the RIBA council meeting last week.

“We are aware of the concerns that have been raised,” a spokesperson for the RIBA told Dezeen.

“As a charity and professional body, we uphold standards whilst also remaining apolitical.

“There is a process for considering the revocation of any honorary award, that will apply once other constitutional reforms have been agreed by the RIBA membership and the Privy Council. Any assessment would remain confidential at least until a decision has been reached.”

Architect Walter Menteth, who organised the campaign, said: “Individual architects, the RIBA as its professional institute and the representatives of our collective professionalism subscribe to behaviour that is lawful, proper and befitting.

“The standard of this behaviour is codified and maintains our professionalism distinctively from civil society, and requires that integrity, probity and non-discrimination must be upheld.

“In our long history as a profession no individual has or can be seen to be above those standards.”

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