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Sunday, 05 July 2015

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Legion outbreak: Barrow architect struck off

THE architect convicted over the Legionnaires’ tragedy has been struck off the profession’s register.


Six women and one man died following the outbreak of the disease at the Barrow Borough Council-run Forum 28 in thesummer of 2002.

Architect Gill Beckingham, design services manager for the council, was subsequently found guilty of breaching health and safety law and fined £15,000 in July 2006.

Now the Architects Registration Board, which regulates the profession, has erased Ms Beckingham from its register of architects.

It means if she was to describe herself as an architect, she would be breaking the law and could be prosecuted and fined, the ARB said. The decision to delete her from the register was taken in London on April 7 by the ARB’s professional conduct committee.

Its chairman, Peter Verdin, acknowledged Ms Beckingham had already suffered a penalty from the court and said it wasn’t the committee’s task to punish her again.

But, Mr Verdin said, they had to consider their twin duties of protecting the public and sustaining public confidence in the integrity of the profession.

Mr Verdin referred to the fact that Ms Beckingham’s health had suffered.

Mr Verdin said: “The latest psychiatric report available to us from 2007 refers to a post traumatic stress disorder.

“She and those who have written on her behalf feel that she was not the one with prime responsibility for these tragic events.

“Nevertheless, it is not for us to go behind the conviction, although this view is reflected in the judge’s sentencing remarks.

“We have considered suspension but section 17 of the Architects Act 1997 provides that suspension ends after a period of two years.

“We are aware of Ms Beckingham’s health problems.

“We hope that she makes a good recovery and that she will be able to return to practice at some time in the future.

“But we do not know when that will be. We have to be sure that she is restored to health before she returns to the register and the only way we can do this is to order erasure.”

The committee’s decision comes almost three years after Ms Beckingham was sentenced.

Simon Howard, professional standards manager for the ARB, said: “The proceedings had been adjourned until she was considered fit enough to partake in them.

“Ultimately, however, she chose not to attend the hearing itself.”

The architect was not represented at the hearing, Mr Howard said, but she did make submissions to the committee.

Ms Beckingham left the employment of the council – which was fined £125,000 for breaching health and safety – on May 21, 2007.

She was not available for comment.

Have your say

Gill Beckingham has been hung out to dry by the council. As 'design services manager for the council', I fail to see how she could be held responsible for the design of Forum 28's air conditioning system, less still the preventative planned maintenance of it. Now that Ms. Beckingham is no longer allowed to describe herself as an architect, does this also mean some councillors not being allowed to describe themselves as men?

Posted by Neil on 27 April 2009 at 07:40

Absolutely disgraceful, what happened was horrific & devastating but why has this woman had all the blame put on her ? The powers that be should hang their heads in shame

Posted by Jo on 26 April 2009 at 19:08

View all 3 comments on this article

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