London – Justin Rooney has been a qualified architect since 2006 and has worked at several high-profile practices, including a seven-year stint at Liftschutz Davidson Sandilands and a two-year stint at Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, according to his LinkedIn profile.
However, the ARB (Architects Registration Board) has now barred Rooney from being an architect for at least two years following a complaint from GRID Architects last December. The south London-based practice had hired him as a temporary architect in November 2021 via an agency.
Seven directors and members of staff at GRID provided evidence to a hearing of the ARB’s Professional Conduct Committee (PCC). Rooney did not attend and was not legally represented – although he had submitted letters in his defence.
The PCC found that Rooney had made offensive comments which ‘were unsolicited and said in a tone that imparted a sense of malice’. He also made derogatory comments about the nationality of other colleagues, as well as ‘a series of antisemitic and offensive comments’.
The PCC also said that it was ‘satisfied on the balance of probabilities’ that Rooney had made ‘Nazi salutes towards fellow employees on more than one occasion’ and made antisemitic comments, including in relation to GRID Architects, on his Instagram account.
It said that one employee at GRID had changed their registered address on the RIBA register of architects so that Rooney would not be able to discover their homes address, adding that more than one GRID employee expressed concern about their personal safety and suffered ‘emotional harm’ from his behaviour.
Rooney admitted to making one of the antisemitic comments, telling a colleague ‘die Jewish c**t’, but denied making Nazi salutes or being racist.
In a written letter of his defence against the allegations, he wrote: ‘I’ve been the subject of something of a targeted campaign by a certain section of the people in the architecture and construction industry for a few years now and this experience has made me quite intolerant.
‘Please note I am decidedly not a racist. How my tolerance has been worn down over the years culminating with my experience in GRID is not something I believe should be the source of a formal proceedings of a consumer protecting professional body as the ARB,’ he said.
Further details of the allegations against Rooney, and his defence, can be found here.
The PCC said Rooney’s comments were ‘seriously offensive and seriously discreditable and went beyond mere expression of opinion,’ adding they were ‘espoused and performed, without apparent justification, to demean and insult and provoke hostility against individuals on grounds of protected characteristics’.
It said Rooney’s comments had been discriminatory ‘on grounds of age, race, religion, and belief’ adding that the ‘repeated’ remarks had caused ‘offence and fear on the part of his work colleagues’. It also said that Rooney ‘did not demonstrate true insight into his conduct’ despite ‘acknowledg[ing] that he was antisemitic’.
It concluded that Rooney’s behaviour amounted to unacceptable professional conduct which could bring the architecture profession into disrepute. It decided to remove Rooney from the Architects’ Register as it believed his behaviour ‘is likely to be repeated’ and is ‘incompatible… with continuing to be an architect’.
The PCC said Rooney may apply to become a registered architect again in two years – however, he will have to ‘seek to demonstrate that is fit to be registered in the light of the concerns found established in these proceedings’.
GRID Architects was contacted for comment.
In 2020 the ARB removed Peter Kellow, a former member of the RIBA’s Traditional Architecture Group, from the Architects’ Register after he posted discriminatory comments about Jews and Sunni Muslims.