RIBA head accused of abusing position 'to help girlfriend find job'

‘Deeply religious’ President of Royal Institute of British Architects is accused of abusing his position ‘by helping his architect girlfriend to find a job’

  • RIBA President Alan Jones, 55, allegedly began affair with Sanoara Begom, 40
  • Mr Jones helped her with her CV and arranged interviews for her in London
  • Mr Jones, a professor at Queen’s University Belfast, is married to dentist Laura 

The married president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 55, has been accused of abusing his position by helping his girlfriend, 40, get a job. 

Alan Jones, 55, allegedly began a relationship with architectural assistant Sanoara Begom, from Solihull, West Midlands, in 2018.

He helped her with her CV and arranged interviews for her in London around the time the relationship is thought to have begun.

Mr Jones, a professor at Queen’s University Belfast, is married to dentist Laura, 54. The couple live with their two children in Randalstown, County Antrim, where he also works. 

Alan Jones, 55, (pictured) allegedly began an affair with architectural assistant Sanoara Begom, from Solihull, West Midlands, in 2018 

Mr Jones emailed members of the council to say ‘a matter had arisen’ in his personal life that meant he could not carry on with his duties as president after Ms Begom said she wanted the relationship to be public, a colleague is quoted as saying in The Times.

An internal investigation was launched by a law firm and the Charity Commission were informed.

In 2018, Ms Begom approached former RIBA president Ben Derbyshire claiming that Goodchild Architecture – the company she was working for at the time – made Islamophobic and racist comments and did not pay her wages, the paper reports.

The case went to the High Court and the bailiffs were sent in. Ms Begom struggled to find work once the case concluded.

She was introduced to Mr Jones – then vice-president of education – around that time.

Later in 2018 she wrote that Mr Jones ‘has supported me throughout the year and has helped me with my CV… Alan Jones will be contacting mid-range practices in London to arrange interviews,’ The Times reports.

Mr Jones, a professor at Queen’s University Belfast, is married to dentist Laura, 54 (pictured together) 

It is rumoured that the affair started around this time. 

Among the law firms possible lines of investigation is the use of the president’s flat in Portland Place, a grace and favour property.

Following Jones’ email, RIBA’s honorary secretary Kerr Robertson said in a statement: ‘Alan Jones advised us of a sensitive matter that had arisen in his personal life and has taken leave of absence.

‘As there was the potential for this to reflect on his role as RIBA President, we followed standard guidance by immediately informing our regulator, the Charity Commission, setting out how we would review the matter.

‘There has been no complaint made to or by the RIBA on this matter. There has been no disciplinary process, and we are not aware of any ongoing external investigations. 

Members of the 180-year-old institute (pictured) have called for greater transparency as an investigation into whether Mr Jones used any of Riba’s funds to conduct his affair continues

‘We have an obligation to treat such matters fairly and confidentially, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for the RIBA to comment further at this stage.’

A Charity Commission spokesman also said: ‘The Royal Institute of British Architects has acted in line with our guidance, by submitting a serious incident report to the Commission in connection with the recent stepping down of the charity’s president.

‘We are currently assessing the charity’s response to this matter, to ensure that it is being handled appropriately.’ 

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