Museums News United Kingdom

Royal Armouries director-general suspended

Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley is replaced by Chris Walker, the Armouries’ finance director

Lieutenant-General Jonathon Riley, who commanded British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, has been suspended as Master of the Armouries over an issue raised by its internal auditors, KPMG. This has delayed the Armouries’ annual accounts, which are normally filed in June.

Riley, who took over as director-general of the Royal Armouries and as Master of the Armouries in 2009, is a distinguished military leader. He had risen to become the deputy commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan.

As the Armouries’ accounting officer, Riley holds formal responsibility for financial matters. The 2010/11 accounts appeared not to disclose any problems and were approved by the government’s auditor-general, Amyas Morse, in June 2011. The 2011/12 accounts have not yet been filed.

The Armouries is unwilling to go into details, but has issued a statement saying that, in May, Riley was placed “under temporary suspension, pending the outcome of a review of issues raised by our auditors”.

Andrew Scott, the retired director of the Science Museum Group (which runs London’s Science Museum), was appointed the interim head of the Armouries on 30 May on a short-term contract. He was replaced on 24 August by Chris Walker, the Armouries’ finance director.

The chairman of the Armouries, Wes Paul, said in welcoming Walker’s appointment that he looked forward “to developing our working relationship”. This suggests that Riley’s suspension could last some time.

Riley’s predecessor, Paul Evans, was suspended in 2008, pending an internal investigation into “potential irregularities”. He was given a doctor’s certificate, stating that he was ill, and he resigned a few months later. The nature of these irregularities remained confidential and the inquiry was dropped after Evans left. This problem is assumed to be quite separate from that involving Riley.

The Royal Armouries is a national museum with its main base in Leeds. It also has displays in the Tower of London, in Fort Nelson, Hampshire, and in Louisville, Kentucky.

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