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Architect Sir David Adjaye removed from Holocaust Memorial role after sex allegations

Architect Sir David Adjaye is no longer working on the UK's Holocaust memorial or advising London's mayor, after being accused of sexual misconduct.

On Tuesday, the Financial Times (FT) reported three women had accused him of sexual assault and harassment.

Sir David said he "absolutely" rejected "any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing".

He was "deeply sorry" for relationships that were "entirely consensual" but blurred professional boundaries.

And he said he would be "immediately seeking professional help in order to learn from these mistakes".

'Stepped away'

The government said Sir David's work on the capital's planned Holocaust memorial would not continue "until the issues raised have been addressed".

And a representative for the mayor said Sir David had "stepped away from his role as a design advocate".

The Ghanaian-British architect, 56, has previously designed landmark buildings ranging from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington DC, to the Nobel Peace Centre, in Oslo.

Holocaust Memorial in Westminster
(Sir David Adjaye) An artist's impression shows how the UK's Holocaust memorial might look beside the Houses of Parliament

The three women, all previously employed by Sir David, had accused him of different forms of "exploitation", the FT said, and claimed their dealings with him had disrupted their careers and caused serious mental distress.

One accused Sir David of assaulting her in a South African airport bathroom in 2019. She made a criminal complaint in 2021, which police in the country told the FT they had "registered".

His lawyers told the paper he denied the allegation "in the strongest possible terms" and said the woman had made the allegation well after the event, to try to extract money from Sir David after being dismissed for poor performance at work.

'Forcibly kissing'

The woman also claimed he had assaulted her in a flat in Ghana, after propositioning her and a friend. The friend confronted him afterwards and accused him of abusing his position, according to the FT.

Sir David's lawyer said he "strongly denies making any sexual advances towards" them and "categorically denies forcing [her] to enter his bedroom and sexually assaulting her".

The third woman accused him of forcibly kissing her after closing time at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, before "a series of controlling and emotionally abusive sexual encounters with him" in the subsequent months.

She said she sent Sir David a legal letter in February 2022, accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Sir David's lawyer told the FT he had kissed the woman at the Royal Academy but "categorically denies" her version of events is correct or that "he exhibited abusive and controlling behaviour towards [her]".

Sir David Adjaye poses after he was Knighted by the Duke of Cambridge during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on May 12, 2017
(Sir David Adjaye) Sir David received a knighthood in 2017

In a statement to BBC News on Wednesday, he said: "I absolutely reject any claims of sexual misconduct, abuse or criminal wrongdoing. These allegations are untrue, distressing for me and my family and run counter to everything I stand for."

"I am ashamed to say that I entered into relationships which though entirely consensual, blurred the boundaries between my professional and personal lives. I am deeply sorry. To restore trust and accountability, I will be immediately seeking professional help in order to learn from these mistakes, to ensure that they never happen again."

Sir David was awarded British architecture's highest accolade, the Royal Institute of British Architects' gold medal in 2021, knighted in 2017 and awarded the exclusive Order of Merit last year.

'Very seriously'

An official at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, which is in charge of the Holocaust memorial, said: "We are aware of the allegations and have spoken with Adjaye Associates.

"They have confirmed that Sir David will not be involved in the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation project until the issues raised have been addressed."

Sir David's architectural practice is designing the entrance pavilion, learning centre and cafe for the memorial.

His other current projects include the redevelopment of Liverpool's International Slavery Museum.

A representative for National Museums Liverpool said it had became aware of the allegations on Tuesday, adding: "We are currently unable to make any further comment but take the allegations described very seriously."

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