CSD yet to close Topalian case

A call by the Chartered Society of Designers for its honorary secretary Alan Topalian to resign because of an alleged conflict of interest remains unresolved four months after it was issued.

Topalian has denied allegations that his actions on two counts threatened the CSD’s charter.

Former CSD president Nick Jenkins says the CSD executive committee “decided to put the matter on hold for a bit, because we were trying to sort out everything else”.

According to CSD vice-president Adrianne LeMan: “Alan has shown a desire to resolve this amicably. We are working with him to achieve that resolution.”

She hopes the issue will be settled within a couple of weeks, but cannot comment on Topalian’s future with the CSD. He was elected as honorary secretary for two years at last year’s AGM.

The formal request for Topalian to resign from all his positions within the society came in a letter from Jenkins dated 10 February. It followed consultation with George Freeman, David Carter and Dick Negus – respectively chairman and members of the CSD conduct sub-committee – about allegations that Topalian had become trainer on courses set up by the CSD’s Design Management Group, which he chaired, for a fee of 600 a day.

Freeman, Carter and Negus advised that Topalian was contravening society rules and recommended CSD Council consider whether or not he should be disqualified from membership. According to LeMan, Topalian resigned as a trainer in December and had received no payment.

In his letter Jenkins cited a second case regarding a British Standards Institution committee, on which Topalian had been CSD representative since 1992. This, Jenkins alleged, had led to Topalian being paid by the BSI as co-author of the BS 7000 Part 2 Guide to Managing the Design of Manufactured Products.

Letters relating to these events were sent anonymously to Design Week three weeks ago. The CSD has since threatened legal injunctions to prevent publication.

LeMan, who has been acting president since Jenkins’ resignation last week, says she is reserving judgement on the matter until she has all the information.

Topalian says the claims “have been completely refuted”. He adds: “I haven’t heard of anything that suggests the matter is being taken forward. I am honorary secretary and remain in position.”

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