20

Barristers and Judges

Where Freemasonry does play a big part - and this is why so many judges are Masons - is in the process by which appointments to the Bench are made. I discovered this as a result of acting on the advice of a London Circuit judge who wrote to me:

Apart from the professional judiciary, I would think it just as important to ascertain the position in respect of the lay magistrates who decide the overwhelming number of cases, especially outside London ... I would not hold out much hope of success, but it might be worth asking the Lord Chancellor's Department if any consideration is given to Masonry when applicants for the Magistracy are interviewed.

There would have been no hope of getting a straight answer to the question by a direct approach, but after some weeks I established contact with an acquaintance of an acquaintance of a contact of a trusted fellow writer. This man, as a senior official in the Lord Chancellor's Department, knew a great deal of the behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing which culminates in the appointment of a judge, magistrate or other member of the judiciary.

Judges are appointed from the ranks of those barristers and solicitors who have been in practice for at least ten years. Although there is a growing tendency for solicitors to be given preferment to the judiciary, the great majority of judges are former barristers.

To understand why Freemasonry is so powerful in the law, it is helpful to be familiar with the distinct roles of the two branches of the legal profession.

The barrister is the only member of the profession who has the right of audience in any court in the country. Whereas solicitors may be heard only in Magistrates' Courts, County Courts and, in certain circumstances, Crown Courts, a barrister can present and argue a client's case in all these as well as in the High Court, the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords. But unlike the solicitor, the barrister cannot deal with the client direct. Contact between client and barrister is supposed always to be through the solicitor, although this does not always work out in practice. The etiquette of the profession demands that the solicitor, not the client, instructs the barrister. Thus the barrister is dependent on the solicitor for his living.

In England, the rank of barrister-at-law is conferred exclusively by four unincorporated bodies in London, known collectively as the Honourable Societies of the Inns of Court. The four Inns, established between 1310 and 1357, are Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn, the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple. Prior to the establishment of the latter two Inns, the Temple, which lies between Fleet Street and the River Thames, was the headquarters of the Knights Templar, declared heretics by King Philip IV of France and wiped out during the early fourteenth century. There is a modern-day Order of Knights Templar within British Freemasonry which claims direct descent from the medieval order. From the beginning the men of law were linked with Freemasonry.

Each Inn has its own library, dining-hall and chapel. Thousands of barristers' chambers are crammed into the large, impressive eighteenth- and nineteenth-century houses. There are cobbled alleys, covered passages, Gothic arches and winding stairs. There are gardens, swards, opulent residences and courtyards, all turning their backs on the outside world and looking into their own small world, redolent of dusty ledgers, moth-eaten wigs, public school mores, black gowns, scarlet robes and all the ponderous unchanging majesty of the law of old England.

Each Inn is owned by its Honourable Society and is governed by its own senior members - barristers and judges - who are known as Benchers. The Benchers decide which students will be called to the Bar (that is, made barristers) and which will not. Their decision is final. As with so much else in British Law, ancient customs attend the passage of students to their final examinations and admission. Candidates must of course pass examinations, which are set by the Council for Legal Education. But in addition they must 'keep twelve terms', which in everyday language means that on a set number of occasions in each legal term (Hilary, Easter, Trinity and Michaelmas) for three years, candidates must dine at their Inn. If they do so without fail, pass their exams and pay their fees they will then be called, and the degree, or rank, of barrister-at-law will be bestowed upon them.

The Scottish equivalent of a barrister is an advocate, and the Scottish equivalent of the Inns of Court is the Faculty of Advocates in Edinburgh. King's Inn, Dublin, is the Irish counterpart of the English Inns.

In 1966 a Senate of the Inns of Court was set up as an overall governing body. Its first president was, not unexpectedly, a Freemason of grand rank: Mr Justice Widgery. Widgery had been Junior Grand Warden in the United Grand Lodge in 1961. In Masonry he went on to become Senior Grand Warden in 1972, and in the non-secret world to become the first Lord Chief Justice of England to have been a solicitor as well as a barrister.

The Senate itself was superseded in 1974 by a new body which combined the functions of the Senate with the General Council of the Bar. This was given the name of Senate of the Inns of Court and the Bar and to its ninety-four members including six Benchers from each Inn devolved the duty to oversee the conditions of admission, legal education and welfare, and the authority to discipline and disbar, which was previously vested in each Honourable Society. The presidents since 1974 have been Lord Justice Templeman, Lord Scarman, Lord Justice Waller, Lord Justice Ackner and Lord Justice Griffiths. Of these, Waller is a Freemason of grand rank; Templeman did not respond to letters of enquiry; Ackner, asked if he was a Mason, could 'give ... no information at all concerning Freemasonry'; Griffiths, in reply to the same question, regretted that he was unable to enter into correspondence on the matter raised; and Scarman did not reply.

Gray's Inn has its own Craft Lodge - No 4938 - which has its own Royal Arch Chapter and which meets at Freemasons Hall on the third Monday of January, March and October (its yearly installation meeting) and on the first Monday of December.

Some specialized sections of the Bar have their own Lodges, such as the Chancery Bar Lodge (No 2456), constituted in 1892, whose membership comprises barristers dealing mainly in chancery matters and judges of the Chancery Division of the High Court. The Lodge meets in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Masonic barristers are among the hardest Masons of all to persuade to talk, or even admit to being part of the Brotherhood. Take, for example, the barrister with chambers in Gray's Inn who, unable in truth to deny his membership, told me, 'I don't know in what circumstances you may or may not have been told and I am not in a position to discuss the matter with you in any shape or form.' While the Bar remains a masonic stronghold, there is not such a high proportion of masonic barristers as masonic solicitors, who are looked at in Chapter 21.

One reason there was always less need for a barrister to join the Brotherhood is that barristers traditionally had the compensation of circuit life. One barrister told me: 'We are already a brotherhood in a sense. We are a small profession and are therefore very close to each other in any event, and don't really need the additional qualification of being Freemasons in order to be known among ourselves.' Despite this, Masonry remains strong. Why?

The Bar is a strange profession in many ways, not least because most of the very top people do not want preferment, thus creating great opportunities for second-raters. I was first given insight into this phenomenon by an experienced barrister, a non-Mason, who had excellent contacts in Masonry. He told me, 'A top silk can earn between a quarter and half a million pounds a year. He will not thank you if he is promoted to being a High Court judge, because his income will drop by ninety per cent.* And with the prestige and respect in which he is already held, the automatic knighthood that goes with an appointment to the High Court would be neither here nor there. This applies to half a dozen, perhaps a dozen of the really household names.

'And there has been considerable evidence, certainly since the war, that the appointments to the High Court bench have been - with a few notable exceptions - if not second eleven members, at least not the first rank of the first division.

:iThe annual salary of a High Court judge in 1982-3 was £42,500.

'This was underlined with the appointment of Henry Fisher to the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court in 1968. Fisher had been an absolute top practitioner in City matters - commercial law and the like. He accepted the appointment to the High Court Bench, then two years later made legal history by resigning to go back into commercial life. He couldn't return to the Bar of course, but he went into the City as a company director. In 1973 he became Vice-President of the Bar Association for Commerce, Finance and Industry, and he has conducted several important enquiries, notably into the operations of Lloyd's. It has been said by his friends, although he hasn't said it, that it was not just the loss of financial income that led him to resign, it was the horror at suddenly moving away from the most eminent businessmen in the country and their really intellectually stimulating problems, and just sitting there trying criminals and listening to old ladies who get hit by motor cycles and claim a couple of thousand pounds' damages. He didn't even have the patience to wait for promotion to the Court of Appeal as he was bound to get. And even if he had got to the Court of Appeal, only one case in twenty is of any intellectual stimulation.'

The top lawyers who don't want preferment are the specialists, those with outstanding ability and long experience in specialized branches of the law like patent law, Common Market law, restrictive practices, Revenue, Chancery, shipping, and so on. These are the first rank of specialists, and for the most part have no ambitions to become judges.

There are therefore never enough people of ability to fill all the posts such as circuit judges, stipendiary magistrates, chairmen of employment tribunals, National Health Service commissions, and so on. First, the pay is a fraction of what people of outstanding ability can command; secondly, they are often soul-destroying occupations. That of circuit judge was described to me thus:

Can you imagine sitting there for eleven months of the year listening to people repeating the same old excuses as to why they have committed crimes? And then you can't even make a decision for yourself - you sum up to the jury, then the jury makes the decision guilty or not guilty. Even when it comes to your discretion on passing sentence, it's all on a scale, and if you exceed the scale you're either going to be reversed by the Court of Appeal or the Home Secretary is going to say the judges are not doing what they're told.*

Oh, they give them a bit of prestige. They dress them up in colourful robes and call them, 'your Honour' and the like. One of the few reasons for a lawyer of real ability to want to become a circuit judge is the very attractive pension arrangements.

But of course, preferment becomes extremely attractive to people who do not have that level of personal ability that they are going to maintain their professional career up to retirement age. Because once you're a little bit over the top, you're fifty or fifty-five, if you haven't made it, or unless you are offering a specialist service, you are what is called a general practitioner. And all the general practitioners always have young and attractive men and women following behind them and they get pushed out as has-beens. Therefore there is terrific competition on the part of the second-rate barrister to get what I call 'minor' preferment. And these second-rate barristers are the people who are prepared to join a Bar Lodge of Freemasons.

There are of course circuit judges who are of the first order of ability. And among the London stipendiary magistrates there is a small number who have chosen that particular appointment in preference even to being a High Court judge or a circuit judge because they feel it more rewarding to work in the community. Equally, there are individual circuit judges who feel they can best serve society in that capacity. There are several outstanding examples in men who have specialist knowledge - particularly of family law. There are some extremely compassionate circuit judges in this field who feel they are more valuable dealing with divorce, custody and related matters in the County Courts than they would be higher up. There are also circuit judges of the first ability who have accepted what many regard as a second-rater's appointment because they resent the dogmatic or Establishment-mindedness, even the narrow-mindedness of the typical authoritarian circuit judge and want to dilute that quality.

*Under the separation of powers, of course, judges are not supposed to do what politicians tell them.

Be this as it may, the vast majority of 'top' lawyers do not want preferment. They are, by the nature of brilliance, rare men of law in any case - probably not more than a hundred in number.

So what of the others, the second- and third-raters? Beneath the first rank of specialists there is another rank of specialists. These barristers are not highly specialized in that they are not dealing in extremely erudite and abstruse subjects which require a high level of qualification. They are in areas where, because of experience, they are able to practise in a limited field where there is a degree of mystique and expertise, where the longer they go on the more they are going to know, and where the youngster can never achieve the older man's knowledge by ability alone, only by passage of time. This second group of specialists can do moderately well by the standards of the legal profession - and can be reasonably confident that they can continue in practice beyond what barristers call the 'has-been age' in life because their knowledge will always be saleable.

The spectre of the 'has-been age' drives many barristers into Freemasonry. Those who most dread it are the general practitioners with no specialist knowledge. Some of this largest of all groups will do extremely well because they have a degree of success, one good case, and they become fashionable. But most, of course, don't become fashionable. Because they do not specialize in a particular field, they feel under constant threat by brilliant young people coming up behind them. If a young barrister is talented and gets the opportunity for experience, it will probably take him or her no more than five years to be as good in general practice as a man or woman twenty years older. As a barrister gets older, his cases do not get better. He is briefed in exactly the same kind of cases when he is sixty as when he was thirty.

It is at this level that barristers live in fear of not getting preferment. They realize that if they are not appointed to the Bench in their early fifties, they probably will not have a practice after they are fifty-five. The only way they can hope to maintain their earning capacity into their late sixties or early seventies is by being appointed to the circuit bench, the stipendiary magistracy, to a chairmanship of tribunals or such like.

These are the men who turn in large numbers to Freemasonry,* because initiation unlocks a door and allows them admission to the right place where they can be seen by the right people. There is a euphemism at the Bar for this 'right place'. If a barrister is seeking preferment and wishes to see and be seen by judges and executives and Civil Servants of the Lord Chancellor's Department, he must 'join the Bar Golfing Society'*.

I was told by a leading QC who is a Freemason, 'There is a legitimate Bar Golfing Society, but most people who talk about being members of the Bar Golfing Society can't play golf at all. They are Masons. Why this childish code has come into being I do not know. They behave as if they are ashamed of being Freemasons. Using Masonry as a stepping stone to the Bench is not wrong. Why do people pretend they don't do it? It would be wrong if on becoming judges

*There is nowhere for women barristers in the same position to turn.

they were tempted to abuse it, but I don't believe for the most part they do.'

Although it is not essential for candidates for the judiciary to be QCs, it is a big move in the right direction, and there is no doubt at all according to sources both masonic and otherwise that joining the Brotherhood, while not a prerequisite, certainly helps in getting to be a QC. Of course, first-rate barristers will be successful in their applications whether they are Masons or not. In fact, the most successful practitioners have to become QCs or the amount of their work becomes impossible. A barrister in the Inner Temple told me; 'At the risk of over-simplification, it can be said that a QC does a smaller number of larger cases. If a successful barrister remains a junior barrister [a barrister who is not a QC, not necessarily very junior in years], his practice becomes so top heavy that he just cannot cope. You can't start refusing work otherwise your practice disappears. Indeed, you become a QC if only to protect your position.'

But these men rarely want preferment, as said before. It is the second-raters, those who want to become QCs in their late forties in the hope that it will help them to attain other appointments, who join the Bar Lodges.

My masonic contact among the senior executives of the Lord Chancellor's Department told me, 'When a barrister joins the right Bar Lodge he can be certain of getting on intimate terms with scores of influential judges, big names many of them, and with large numbers of my colleagues in the Lord Chancellor's Department. And this is right and correct, a right and proper method for men of integrity to come to the Bench. Being a judge is an important, exacting task. Strength of character, personal probity, courage, are all qualities a good judge should have in full measure. And compassion. Where better to find out if a man has these qualities than in Lodge? Can you tell me? This is why most judges are Freemasons. Because Freemasons make the best judges.'

I asked him in whose opinion it was that the best people to be judges were Masons. He replied, 'By those whose job it is to select and recommend. By those who are judged the best people to know.'

Which, of course, was a way of saying, 'Freemasons'.

I asked him about the Lord Chancellor's position in all this, about how Lord Hailsham's not being a member of the Brotherhood affected the procedure. Surprisingly, he had not known whether Hailsham was a Mason or not. But it seemed a matter of indifference to him. 'The Lord Chancellor is in a very peculiar position,' he said. 'Hailsham is good. Absolutely brilliant, whether he's a Mason or not. I hope you don't think I'm saying that only Freemasons make good judges. Of course, the Lord Chancellor has the final say in the appointment of puisne judges, but as he should and is only right, he takes note of the recommendations of existing judges and of the Department. I am sure Hailsham doesn't care whether a man's a Mason or not.'

The fact is, Hailsham as a non-Mason does not know who among the judges he appoints are Freemasons or otherwise. By his own admission, he does not think the issue worth considering. Without knowing it he is fed recommendations of Freemasons by Freemasons. Perhaps there is no great ill in this. Perhaps Masons do make the best judges, although men like Lord Denning and the few women judges such as the Hon Mrs Justice Heilbron in the Family Division of the High Court indicate the calibre of some of the non-Masons in the law.

There is surely something more admirable in a woman or man who has proven her or his ability and reached the Bench of the High Court without having to resort to the secret ladder of Freemasonry. In this sense, it could be argued with some force that it is non-Masons who make the best judges.

The best potential judges are, of course, to be found both within the Brotherhood and outside it, and the very best are going to be appointed regardless. But so long as the system that allows Freemasonry to be a factor in the appointment of judges persists, those of 'second division' ability within Masonry will always have the advantage over their equals outside the Brotherhood - and the majority of judges in this country will continue to be Freemasons.

Most of the non-Mason judges I spoke to knew nothing that pointed to any secret influence in the courts. But, many of them added, as outsiders they would be unlikely to know even if it existed unless it was blatant. Two non-Mason judges were particularly strong in denying the Brotherhood had influence. One, a London judge, told me, 'If the judiciary is at all under the influence of Freemasonry it is a very well kept secret as I have never heard the subject mentioned during eight years as a Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate and nine years as a Circuit Judge. To be truthful, the thought has never crossed my mind. In my seventeen and a half years' experience on the full-time bench I do not think the subject of Freemasonry has ever been discussed in front of me by my colleagues and I have never been aware of any influence it has had in their appointment, promotion, or their professional lives.'

The strongest statement disputing allegations of untoward influence in the courts I received from a non-masonic judge (I received some much stronger ones from Masons, as might be expected) was from Judge Rodney Percy of the North Eastern Circuit: 'Although I was in practice at the Newcastle Bar for thirty years from 1950 onwards, I never became aware that Freemasonry played any part in "influencing" any decisions made either in or between counsel themselves or counsel and judges. I am sure that I should have recognized and remembered such occasions, but I can recall none.'

A Hertfordshire judge whose father and father-in-law are both Freemasons, but who is not one himself, told me, ‘I have not experienced anything in my profession as barrister or judge to indicate any sinister influence at work by Freemasons.' A judge currently serving on the North Eastern Circuit, which covers courts in Leeds, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Sheffield, Teesside, York, Bradford, Huddersfield, Wakefield, Durham, Beverley, Doncaster and Hull, was representative of many non-Mason judges in his view: ‘In the whole of the time I have been in the legal profession I have never been conscious of Freemasonry playing any part in any decision.'

There is, of course, a natural disinclination by anyone who has spent his life dispensing justice to the best of his ability to acknowledge the possibility that some of his colleagues, whoever they are, might not be doing the same. And a judge not being aware of a certain phenomenon does not necessarily mean it isn't there, as evidenced by the Kent judge who does not know 'any member of the judiciary to be a Freemason', although they are all around him. This judge, too, has 'no reason to think that Freemasonry plays any part in the administration of justice'.

One of the most eminent judges in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, who associates with masonic judges daily, has this to say: ‘I am not a Freemason although I have had numerous opportunities of becoming one. I have a fundamental objection to any secret society, which has the power of influencing decisions affecting its members in a manner which would otherwise not have occurred, and/or to the disadvantage of non-members.'

Strong stuff, but to the chagrin of those seeking evidence of the masonic influence in the courts, he adds, 'I have, of course, no evidence that Freemasons exercise such a power in that way.'

A former Lord Justice of Appeal stressed how general ignorance of the existence of masonic influence was no guarantee that it did not exist. 'I had chambers for many years in Lincoln's Inn,' he said. 'I was not aware of any masonic activity whatsoever. I then learned what a thriving centre of Masonry the Inn was. They kept the secret so well that I never knew there was any secret being kept. We mix with people all the time and still after many years know nothing about them. One heard of the occasional bad judgement - in civil cases - and as a barrister one saw them also. Later, many more bad judgements came one's way. I know personally of one judgement on the part of a judge in the Family Division of the High Court, who is a Freemason, that I can explain only in terms of this organization.'

This case was also brought to my notice independently by one of the main participants. The outline that follows is based on the documents of the case; interviews with the main participant; the former Lord Justice of Appeal who made behind-the-scenes enquiries after first hearing of the case, two barristers who were present during the proceedings, and other well-known and highly respected witnesses involved in the case; and upon my own observations during part of the hearings.

The first point to be stressed is the integrity and standing of the main participant, whom I shall call Randolph Hammond. Hammond had been unjustly deprived of all rights over his only child, a girl aged four. Custody of the child has been awarded to his wife, from whom he is legally separated, and access to his daughter has been made so inhumanly difficult for him by a judge that in practice he is never likely to see her again.

I shall call Hammond's wife Olivia, nee Denbeigh. Her main witness was her father, a doctor, for our purposes to be called Roland Denbeigh. According to the evidence I have seen and heard it was Denbeigh who is to blame for breaking up Randolph and Olivia's marriage, and Denbeigh who instigated the custody action. Olivia herself has described her father to several people as being 'insanely' jealous and possessive of her, having broken up all her previous relationships, some with well-known and respected people who were willing to testify to the truth of Hammond's statements. But the judge in the case refused to hear the evidence of these vital witnesses. Olivia has spoken to many people over the years of her father's complete domination of her, of her inability to resist him and of her lifelong desire to 'escape' from him. He had only to forbid her to marry her previous lovers for her to comply helplessly with his demand. There is evidence that Denbeigh still has this sinister Svengali-like influence over Olivia, although she is well into her thirties. Now, Hammond fears, he is exerting that influence over his granddaughter as well.

During his cross-examination at the trial, it became apparent what a peculiar man Denbeigh was. At a crucial stage in the questioning it came out that he had subjected Olivia to internal examinations every day when she was pregnant, although a Harley Street specialist was in regular attendance. Skilful questioning was beginning to chip away at his upright, moral image and hint at the unnatural relationship he had with his daughter. This in turn showed what a morally and psychologically tainted atmosphere the child would be raised in if Olivia were to be awarded custody. Counsel for Hammond was getting close to showing that the father-daughter relationship was at least mentally incestuous, and was going on to find out the likelihood of there having been actual incest in the past.

Hammond was confident he was on the point of gaining custody of his child, that the judge could not fail to see what an undesirable and even sinister home his daughter would be raised in if custody were awarded to Olivia. But one of the barristers in court was by no means so sure. He told me afterwards, 'That whole case had a bloody strange feel to it. The whole atmosphere of it gave me a very bad gut feeling. All my instincts told me that Hammond was in the right but that he would go down, and that's what happened. The decision went the wrong way for no obvious reason I could gauge. But from the evidence in court and the papers of the case, Hammond was in the right.'

This barrister either did not see or thought nothing of a movement made by Denbeigh at what was for him the most perilous moment of his cross-examination. He suddenly placed his left arm stiff at his side, his finger tips pointing to the floor, and at the same time craned his head round over his right shoulder, his right hand above his eyes as if shading them. 'It was as if,' said Hammond later, 'he was watching an aeroplane in the back corner of the court.' At the time it happened, Hammond thought nothing of it other than as evidence of the old man's strangeness. Only later, thinking back over the judge's inexplicable behaviour immediately afterwards, did he recall Denbeigh's action. Asked by a friend to describe the action, Hammond imitated it and was astonished to be told that it was a Freemasonic signal. As soon as the judge saw the signal, he jumped forward in his seat and ordered counsel to cease his questioning of Denbeigh, utterly mystifying Hammond.

From that moment Hammond's case was doomed. Counsel was blocked at every step in his questioning and, as stated, was refused permission to call necessary witnesses.

Before the first mention of Masonry to him by the friend he told about the sign, Hammond knew virtually nothing of the Brotherhood. Later, when he aped Denbeigh's courtroom antic for my benefit, I was able to tell him that he was making the masonic sign of Grief and Distress, which is associated with the fourth of the Five Points of Fellowship, sacred to the Brotherhood: 'When adversity has visited our Brother, and his calamities call for our aid, we should cheerfully and liberally stretch forth the hand of kindness, to save him from sinking, and to relieve his necessities.'

In other words, Denbeigh was appealing to the judge to save him from the disastrous cross-examination and to make certain that custody was awarded to Olivia. When Hammond told me the name of the judge I was able to tell him that he was indeed an advanced Freemason. The name of that judge appears nowhere in this book, but will I hope later feature prominently in the report of whatever official enquiry is set up to examine this case.

The other barrister I spoke to signed this statement:

I had known [Randolph Hammond] for about six months when he asked me to come in and listen to his case, which I agreed to do. I attended court during most of the action and took notes. I tried to remain objective throughout.

I have no hesitation in stating that in my view the judge showed strong bias from the start. [Hammond's counsel] outlined his case, made his points, successfully took apart the testimony of [Olivia Hammond's] witnesses, placed certain cases with clear judgements before the court but was never heard in any real sense. The judge's findings in his judgement are totally contradicted by the evidence of many examples.

[Mr Hammond's] suggestions concerning the masonic aspects of his action are matters which warrant consideration. I have no knowledge of Masonry but having sat through the action feel that something very funny was going on.

The former Lord Justice of Appeal was in no doubt, finally, that the judgement was 'so bad, so wrong' that Freemasonry, not Right, was the ruling factor in this case. But he could only give an opinion, he said. He could produce no evidence to an enquiry that this was so, and he doubted if it were capable of proof.

I was reminded about the story of the judge who told a prisoner still protesting his innocence after sentence, 'These are not Courts of Justice, they are Courts of Law.'

An enquiry into this case at the earliest possible time is clearly essential.

There are occasions, of course, when the masonic boot is on the other foot. One masonic judge, for instance, stopped a case mid-way, turned to the jury and told them that the defendant had just indicated to him that he was a Freemason. As the judge, too, was a Mason he felt it would be proper to withdraw from the case, and did so.

One of my 'moles' in the higher echelons of West Midlands Police, a Freemason, insisted, however, that the masonic link between judges and police officers was 'most damaging to society and to Masonry'. He added, 'The connection between us - the police - and the judiciary is very wrong. I'm not against judges being Masons. It's this unseen intimacy between the groups that is bad.

'I really don't like the way the organization [Freemasonry] is going, particularly with the judges and an overwhelming majority of the magistracy being Freemasons. I have seen policemen indicate to judges that they are Masons. They usually do it by making a deliberate mistake when taking the oath - "I swear by the Great Archit— oh, I'm sorry, I swear by Almighty God Every Freemason in court then knows he's a Brother.'

I asked him what a police officer could possibly hope to achieve by this.

'Oh, I've seen it so often,' he said. 'If the policeman has a sticky case where he's been under heavy pressure, it certainly won't do him any harm for the judge to know he's a fellow Mason. He will hold back on the criticism he might have of the officer's handling of the case, for instance. He will also take the word of the police officer as gospel, where he would not necessarily do so if neither of them were Masons.'

'And you've seen this happen?' I asked. 'As recently as last Thursday, yes.' 'How often does it happen?'

'I don't really know these days. I don't go to court very often now. I used to see it a lot when I did. I was listening in at Birmingham Crown Court on another matter and I saw it happen. I had a quiet smirk to myself actually. There was no need for it because it was no open-and-shut thing. This rather nattily dressed Detective Superintendent did it in court. There was not a lot of benefit in it, if that's what you're thinking. It's just that I can't see that this famous impartiality of judges can exist under these circumstances.'

If the perversion of justice by masonic judges were at all frequent, I am confident that my research would have produced direct evidence of it. There have, as we have seen, been cases of obvious masonic abuse, several reported to me by men of integrity and standing in the law. There are instances where Freemason judges are influenced by their loyalty to the Brotherhood to act in a way they otherwise would not, either to the detriment or benefit of the defendant. Such cases, in whichever direction the judge is influenced to bend or stretch the law, are nothing less than dereliction of duty. They are by their very nature dishonourable and always detrimental to society. But it can safely be stated that such incidents are rare exceptions in the higher courts, although those courts are presided over by a majority of Freemasons.

It is only common sense that if there was a single Freemason judge in England who regularly tried to influence juries in favour of masonic prisoners, who showed favour to masonic litigants, or who regularly passed the lowest permissible sentence on his masonic brethren, he would have been exposed long ago, given the large number of assiduous journalists, honest and otherwise, this country boasts.

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