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Statement from Roger Sainsbury

I have resigned my membership of the Institution because the way in which its affairs are conducted is, in my view, not compatible with its position of trust to its membership; is not reconcilable with its position as custodian for the ethics of the profession; is such that I personally am no longer willing to be associated with it.

These criticisms relate principally to the means adopted for bringing in the changes to single membership. I believe that the methods used in rushing through this momentous change have fallen far short of any reasonable standard of integrity, and have amounted to a betrayal of trust in respect of the Members.

This I believe to be very wrong.

Key points: Council approved in detail resolutions for a ballot in pursuance of Corporate Membership for Associate Members. Unknown to Council, changes were made to these resolutions, changes which had no bearing on Corporate Membership but which paved the way for single membership to be later introduced without a ballot. The ballot papers containing the amended resolutions were sent under cover of a letter which gave an assurance that the proposed bylaw changes were not connected with the subject of single membership. The combination of the changes and the covering letter must, in my view, have been seriously misleading to the electorate. The outcome of the whole process was that Members never had a chance knowingly to vote on the issue of single membership.

Cameron McKenna, solicitors instructed by past president Green and myself, wrote with the support of counsel, telling the Institution that what had been done was in conflict with the Institution's legal obligations properly to inform the electorate. There has not, so far as I know, ever been any rebuttal of this letter. Indeed, the chief executive in his paper to Council in December wrote that 'if subjected to rigorous testing by lawyers, the process we have conducted. . . . may not stand up'.

All this and much more was in the hands of Council members in December when they voted by a large majority to endorse what had been done and not to call a ballot.

I have concluded that not only does the top leadership of the Institution regard the integrity of the Institution's processes as unimportant, but so do the generality of members of Council and yet the Institution is supposedly the custodian of the ethics of the profession.

I have just found all of this unacceptable - and incompatible with my continuing in membership.

I wish to make it entirely clear that I have not resigned over the issue of single membership. I do believe that the concept of single membership is seriously mistaken and that it will bring harm to the Institution and to the profession of civil engineering. I acknowledge, however, that this is an issue on which it is possible to hold the opposite point of view. Had the Corporate Members in a ballot and by a two thirds majority voted for such a change, I would have accepted it.

There is a world of difference between ideas which are perceived as mistaken and conduct which is perceived to be wrong.

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