I'm replying to the concerns expressed by G Tedbury in last week's NCE. He rightly states that if the Institution feels it needs to 'act expeditiously' to protect the public interest, it should do so by arranging a hearing of the Disciplinary Board as soon as possible.
This would be done in such a case as a matter of course.
But there would inevitably be some delay before a hearing could take place, as the matter would first have to be considered by the Professional Conduct Panel to enable the member to make any written observations in explanation or mitigation.
To conform to the Human Rights Act, the member would have the right to make representations to the Institution before the suspension took place.
Only in the most exceptional case would the chairman of the Disciplinary Board override this and order immediate suspension, ie where it is against the public interest for the convicted member to continue to practise, and where the Disciplinary Board is almost certain to order the member's expulsion or suspension.
As a 'fail safe', such a decision would have to be agreed by the chairman of the Professional Conduct Panel.
Amar Bhogal, deputy director General, ICE, 1 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AA