Past RIBA president and HTA chair shares footage of “depressing” east London confrontation


Source: Ben Derbyshire / Twitter

Past RIBA president Ben Derbyshire has been inundated with messages of support after video footage emerged showing him battling a gang of moped-riding bike thieves in east London.

Derbyshire, who is also chair of HTA Design, confronted the gang of criminals outside a café in Broadway Market, near London Fields, on Friday.

Images captured by onlookers and shared on social media by Derbyshire show the 70-year-old tussling with members of the gang outside El Ganso. They had used an angle grinder in what turned out to be an unsuccessful attempt to steal the architect’s £2,500 Brompton bike, which was locked to his daughter’s bike.

Derbyshire, who served as RIBA president from 2017 to 2019, was backed up by his son and daughter – and the owner of El Ganso, forcing to the thieves to flee without his bike. However, in the process Derbyshire described having been threatened with the angle-grinder the thieves had been using.

He said the incident had been “depressing” but had left him with two important lessons: make lots of noise and take loads of pictures in extreme situations; and revert to using his “tatty” older bike.









The footage posted by the past RIBA president prompted hundreds of responses on social media, many from architecture professionals but also significant numbers from victims of bike crime with no previous connection to Derbyshire. Elected Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville also offered his support.

Jack Pringle, who was RIBA president from 2005-7 simply wrote: “Bravo!”

Alan Crawford, managing director of architecture firm Crawford Partnership, also saluted Derbyshire’s bravery. He said that a junior staff member at his Muswell Hill-based practice had been forced at knifepoint to part with their Brompton by masked moped riders.

The Metropolitan Police said it was investigating the incident involving Derbyshire, which took place shortly before 11am on 12 May.

The force encouraged any witnesses who had yet to come forward to contact officers via the 101 number for non-emergency calls, quoting incident reference 2586/12may.