At a hearing of the Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee in Blackpool on 9 May 2014, Mr Ian Sherwood of Hattrell DS One Architects LLP, Manchester, was erased from the Register of Architects after being found guilty of a criminal offence that had material relevance to his fitness to practise as an architect.
On 12 March 2013, Mr Sherwood was convicted at Southwark Crown Court of conspiracy to cheat the Public Revenue. He was sentenced to 42 months imprisonment and was disqualified under Section 2 Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986 for a period of 5 years. Mr Sherwood notified the ARB of his conviction, as he was expected to do under the Architects Code of Conduct.
The Committee heard that Mr Sherwood had allowed his offices to be used as a front for a company that was involved in a bogus film project. The film was to be called “Landscape of Lives” and it was to have a budget of £19.6 million. The project was the basis of three claims for repayment of VAT and one claim for film tax credit. The Court found that while Mr Sherwood had the least involvement in the project he had maintained lies at a meeting with the VAT Inspector, and sent through to her what he must have known to be false documents afterwards.
Mr Sherwood accepted the facts of the conviction and submitted mitigation and explanation to the Committee, which included live evidence from character references. The Committee noted that Mr Sherwood intended to appeal the conviction, but the fact remained that at the date of the hearing, the he was convicted of a serious offence of dishonesty for which he received a lengthy custodial sentence. The Committee considered honesty and integrity to be fundamental tenets of the profession and was therefore satisfied that Mr Sherwood’s conviction was such that it is materially relevant to his fitness to practise.
In considering what sanction to impose, the Committee said:
“The matter for which the Respondent was convicted was patently serious and materially impacts not only on the Respondent’s reputation, but also on that of the profession generally”.
In the circumstances it decided that the only appropriate sanction was an erasure order.
A full copy of the Committee’s decision can be found here.
Notes for Editors
ARB is the statutory body established by Parliament under the Architects Act 1997 to regulate the UK architects’ profession in the public interest. The Act requires ARB (among other things) to:
• Maintain the Register of Architects (Section 3)
• Prescribe qualifications for entry to the Register of Architects (Section 4)
• Deal with competence to practise (Section 9)
• Issue a Code which lays down standards of professional conduct and practice (Section 13)
• Regulate use of the title “architect” and prosecute those who use it unlawfully (Section 20)
The PCC is established under Schedule 1, Part II of the Architects Act and is required to consider any report referred to it. The Committee determines whether an architect is guilty of unacceptable professional conduct or serious professional incompetence. Where a guilty finding is made, the Committee 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.
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