In 1978, following one of several appearances I made on Australian television, the studio's switchboard was jammed with calls from viewers who wanted to talk to me about the masonic aspects of the Jack the Ripper case. One man subsequently wrote to me saying,‘I have a story which confirms yours. The same secret society is still doing the same things here (Sydney). I cannot begin to even outline events that have taken place here, but misdeeds ranging from murder to cannibalism have taken place. Persons involved include some famous, wealthy and politically powerful people, including a person in one of the top political offices in Australia. This story is still current and desperately needs someone to write/expose it.
‘If you are outside Australia when you get this letter, please write back at once, as time is getting short in many ways.'
The letter ended with the postscript, 'Help! Please.'
I had my reservations, not only because of the extreme nature of the allegations but also because of the tone and presentation of the letter, which was handwritten on flimsy lined paper. However, I was intrigued, and in view of the man's plea I decided it would do me no harm to listen and might well do him some good to have a listener. Although it was hard for me to picture Malcolm Fraser sitting down to breakfast off a human arm and orange juice, it was just possible there was a story in it somewhere. I phoned the man and we met at the Melbourne Hilton.
I sat and listened to a convoluted tale of crime and wickedness in high places, partly involving the corruption by way of 'the secret brotherhood of Freemasonry' of all levels of the police in Sydney. The allegations of criminal activity might or might not have been well founded. But apart from the fact that several unconnected cases involved men who were Masons, he offered no evidence except his own 'absolute certainty' that Freemasonry played any part at all.
Logic can very quickly go out of the window if a clear distinction is not made between incidents caused by Freemasonry and incidents merely involving Freemasons. As I have already said, the difference between the two is often ignored or not appreciated. There are several examples of alleged police malpractice involving Freemasons which show the importance of this point.
One bullish Welsh PC told me at great length how an Inspector had once intervened and stopped him when he, the PC, was dealing with a charge of obstruction against a detective sergeant of a nearby force whose private car had blocked the pavement in the town's main street for more than an hour on a busy Saturday afternoon. The Inspector and the Sergeant were Masons in the same Lodge, said the non-Mason PC.
So, here we have a clear case of one police officer with masonic loyalty to another stepping in and preventing the law taking its course. Or do we?
If the only reliable test - beyond reasonable doubt – is applied, the PC's case does not stand up for five minutes. The PC was convinced that had the other two not been Freemasons, the incident would not have occurred. But his argument begins from the premise that Freemasonry is corrupting, and cites an example of dubious conduct on the part of a Freemason to prove it. The argument is circular and therefore specious.
The plain fact is that embarrassing incidents of this sort are being covered up all the time, and nobody takes much notice until someone says, 'They're both Masons, of course,' and everyone nods sagely and grumbles about the Great Conspiracy.
This incident would have occurred whether or not the men were Freemasons, because they were also brothers-in-law, something the PC failed to tell me when he was cracking on about masonic corruption.
Stanley Parr, the sixty-year-old Chief Constable of Lancashire, was suspended on full pay in March 1977 following a top-level enquiry into allegations of malpractice, including the misuse of his position to show favours. Ten months later he was sacked amid a welter of publicity. The case of Parr, who was a Freemason, has been quoted as one which provides strong evidence of the corrupting influence of Masonry. Unfortunately for the anti-Brotherhood lobby, this is not strictly true.
The trouble began when a Blackpool Sergeant, Harry Roby, made a complaint to an Inspector of Constabulary. Further allegations were made that certain motorists known to Parr were given preferential treatment after being accused of speeding and parking offences. The most serious suggestion was that Parr had altered a charge made against a motorist whose car had mounted the pavement on the main Blackpool-Preston road in August 1975 and killed two young mothers.
Sir Douglas Osmond, the then Chief Constable of Hampshire, was appointed to investigate and report on the allegations. He was assisted by a highly respected detective, Norman Green, who is now Assistant Chief Constable of Bedfordshire. Both men were non-Masons.
The three-month investigation resulted in the confidential 150-page Osmond Report, part of which examined the alleged undesirable associates of Chief Constable Parr. Before the reorganization of police forces in England and Wales, Parr had been Chief Constable of Blackpool. Even after the reorganization, when Blackpool Force had been absorbed into the new Lancashire County Force with headquarters in Preston, Parr continued to live in Blackpool and spent a great deal of his time, both on and off duty, in the town. It was the relationships which Parr maintained in Blackpool which proved his undoing. He fraternized with a number of people who were considered undesirable company for a Chief Constable, either because they were themselves criminals or associates of criminals, or because they were proprietors of businesses which required some kind of police-approved licence to operate.
These characters included the owner of a Blackpool hotel. Parr was regularly in this man's company, and the two men and their wives went on holiday to Tenerife together. One of thirty-seven disciplinary charges against Parr alleged that he had intervened improperly to prevent the hotel owner being prosecuted for traffic offences. A tribunal set up in the wake of the Osmond Report heard how the hotel owner's son had collided with another vehicle while driving his father's Jaguar on the day the two families returned from Tenerife. The son had told the police who interviewed him: 'My father is on holiday in Tenerife with Stanley Parr and I'll see Mr Parr when he returns home tonight.' He was not prosecuted. His father, who was the holder of a Justice's Licence and therefore subject to police observation and supervision, was considered 'untouchable' by the local police because of his friendship with the Chief Constable. This meant that although he committed frequent traffic offences he was effectively immune from prosecution.
Other acquaintances of the Chief Constable included a 'swag shop' operator, the joint owner of a large 'bingo' business, two bookmakers, a former bookmaker, two club owners, two amusement caterers, a holiday-camp proprietor and a licensee.
These 'unwise' relationships were formed and developed in various organizations in Blackpool - Freemasonry among them. The main one was Sportsmen's Aid, a crypto-masonic organization which over a period of ten years raised more than £70,000 for various local charities. As the original complainant, Sergeant Roby was grilled for two full days by Detective Superintendent Green. At one point, Green, who suspected a Freemasonic link between Parr and those who benefited from his improper conduct, asked Roby outright what part Masonry had played in the whole affair. To Green's surprise, Roby said, 'Oh, nothing whatever. In fact I am a Mason myself.'
Sources close to the investigation told me that at the end of the enquiry, Osmond and Green concluded that a lot of people who were involved were, like Parr, Freemasons. But they were also members of other organizations like the Rotary Club and more particularly Sportsmen's Aid. And although Freemasonry played a part in building relationships which were not 'kept at the proper level', there was no real reason to suspect that Freemasonry alone was to blame.
It is widely appreciated that some journalists will go to inordinate lengths to get a 'good story'. One case, involving the police and the Brotherhood, illustrates how far many people go to malign Freemasonry unwarrantably. The News of the World carried a story by a freelance reporter in some editions of its 3 January 1982 issue under the headline ROW OVER COP CAUGHT IN VICE TRAP. It must be said that the newspaper published the story in good faith. It ran:
A detective who is a Freemason has caused a storm in a county's police force after being caught with a prostitute in his car by the Vice Squad.
Detective Sergeant Alpha Beta [a pseudonym], who is married with a family, has been officially reprimanded by Assistant Chief Constable David East, of Devon and Cornwall force.
But a senior detective said last night: 'Ordinary policemen feel that if it were them they would have been put back into uniform or transferred.
'It has led to a sincere belief that there's one rule for Masons and another for the rest.'
The incident involving Detective Sergeant Beta, who is stationed in Paignton, happened in Plymouth's red light district.
Vice Squad officers watched as he picked up prostitute Janice Hayes, 18, in his car. Then, after he had handed over £10, they pounced.
The policemen recognized the sergeant, who was previously stationed in Plymouth, and they called in their duty inspector.
A report was made to Police HQ in Exeter and the reprimand followed.
At her bedsit home in Devonport, Janice said: 'We agreed £10 for straight sex and drove to a nearby car park.
'I hadn't even got my knickers off when there was a tap on the window. It was the Vice Squad.
'They seemed to know him and said Hello. One of them told me to be on my way so I just ran. If it had been any other punter I'd have been done.'
When a local paper inquired about the affair, Assistant Chief Constable East wrote to the editor admitting the sergeant had been reprimanded, but asking for the story not to be used because it might damage his marriage.
A police spokesman said yesterday: 'This was an internal matter that did not involve a complaint from the public'
When I read this story, I naturally sought further information because of its relevance to my research. I went first to the News of the World, and second to a reporter on the Devon News Agency who had had a hand in producing it. According to this man the story was even better - which was journalese for sensational - than was suggested in the News of the World.
I was told that Detective Sergeant Beta, aged thirty-seven, had been initiated to the Princetown Lodge about two years previously on the recommendation of none other than David East, his own Deputy Chief Constable (wrongly described as ACC in the newspaper report).* I was told that East was a former Worshipful Master of a Lodge in Somerset and that Beta's superiors in the CID right up the line were all brethren of his Lodge. Not only that, they had all been to a Lodge meeting together the night Beta was picked up by the Vice Squad. The journalist told me: 'After the arrest in Plymouth, the girl was sent home and after the duty inspector was called Beta was taken to Charles Cross Police Station in Plymouth and later released. No disciplinary action was taken against him and he nover appeared before a disciplinary board, which he should have done. It was East's statutory duty to discipline the man but he let him off. All he got was a reprimand, which means he goes back in seniority a year. Anyone but a Mason would have
*East succeeded John Alderson as Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall in 1982.
been back on the beat. That copper was aiding and abetting a criminal offence.'
I asked the reporter to get further details for me and he assured me that he would arrange for me to talk to someone within the police who knew all the details of the 'masonic corruption' and could provide evidence to back up what he said. Days passed. I phoned again. He told me the contact was unavailable. This state of affairs persisted for nearly two months, then the first reporter passed on to me another reporter in Torquay. I met with similar promises and an identical lack of results. Eventually I investigated the story myself. This is the truth of the case.
Detective Sergeant Beta was a Freemason, and a member of Benevolence Lodge No 666 at Princetown, Devon. A number of his colleagues and superiors were brethren in the same Lodge, and on the night of his misconduct he had been to a Lodge meeting with them. The truth about what happened in Plymouth is quite at variance with the account that appeared later in the News of the World, however.
One vital point is that the prostitute Janice Hayes quoted by the newspaper was not the prostitute who was found with the detective sergeant. Nor could the real prostitute have said, 'One of them told me to be on my way so I just ran. If it had been any other punter I'd have been done,' because the prostitute found with Beta was done. She was not sent on her way but was arrested and taken by the two Vice Squad officers along with Beta to the police station, where she was officially cautioned. 'Janice Hayes' was either a figment of the reporters' imagination dreamed up for the purpose of making a good story or, less likely, was another prostitute who agreed to lend her name to the untruthful quote. The reporters are known to have been talking to prostitutes in the red light district of Plymouth after Beta was found in the compromising position.
A man who consorts with a prostitute does not commit a criminal offence. The lawbreaker is the woman, the offence 'soliciting for the purpose of prostitution'. In order to prove soliciting to the satisfaction of the courts, it is established practice all over the country that a woman be cautioned twice and only on the third time be taken before the court. An element of the offence is persistent soliciting. The two cautions were devised in order to prove that element. This was the first time the woman involved with Beta had been cautioned, so there was no offence by her. Logically, there was no offence by Beta. Had she committed an offence, Beta would then technically have been aiding and abetting, but no policeman or lawyer I have spoken to on the subject has heard of any man in Beta's position being charged with aiding and abetting a prostitute.
Because a policeman was involved, and because the Vice Squad officers quite properly informed their superiors, the matter came before Deputy Chief Constable David East. East was a Freemason but had not been active for years and had no connection with Benevolence Lodge No 666 or any other in Devon and Cornwall. It was up to East to decide how to deal with Beta. There had been no criminal offence by the woman, therefore none by the man, so the case was outside the ambit of the Director of Public Prosecutions. Therefore it was a matter of internal police discipline. The only offence within the disciplinary code which was even remotely relevant was discreditable conduct - bringing discredit upon the force.
When this is analysed, it is not difficult to see East's dilemma. There had been no member of the public involved, the prostitute did not know Beta was a policeman, and the only others involved were two police officers. In technical terms it would have been extremely difficult to press a charge of bringing discredit on the police when the arresting officers were the only witnesses. Adding to the difficulty were the facts that he was off-duty, in his own time, and over forty miles away from the place of his work, Torquay. Taking all this into consideration, East had little choice but to decide that it was not a case for formal discipline but for parading Beta in his office, one means at a DCC's disposal for dealing with less serious disciplinary cases, and really going to town on him verbally.
Beta was severely reprimanded by East and the admonishment was formally entered in his personal file, which meant that he was barred from promotion for three years. Having applied that not insignificant punishment, East had to decide whether to leave the officer where he was or transfer him back to uniform. There were problems. CID officers have more freedom than uniformed police. The plain clothes man is far more on personal trust, out of the immediate scope of organized routine supervision. Some officers have told me the answer was clear: Beta could not be trusted, so he should have been back in uniform without delay.
One aspect to be considered was that his wife and family knew nothing of the incident. In itself, that would be no justification for East failing to transfer Beta if a transfer was. the only proper course. The main problem was that if the Sergeant was moved back to uniform on the grounds that he required greater supervision, he would have to go either to Exeter or Plymouth. A move to Exeter would mean that he would become responsible for young probationary constables. A move to Plymouth would put him right back in the midst of one of the biggest red light districts in the West Country. Bearing in mind both the nature of the incident and the punishment already meted out by East, most senior police officers - non-Masons to a man - I have tackled about this case are of the opinion that the action taken in leaving Beta in plain clothes at Torquay was the correct one.
This case has been treated at some length because it is an admirable example of how the anti-Mason's view of any incident can be coloured by his prejudices. This goes further than interpreting ordinary events in a masonic way simply because Freemasons happened to be involved - it actually leads people, as in this instance, to invent details that turn happenstance into masonic conspiracy.