CPS masonic link questioned

The Burnley branch of the Crown Prosecution Service has come under question from MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee over possible masonic links.

In the report, which recommends a register of freemason prosecutors, judges, magistrates and police officers, the MPs reveal claims about an alleged malicious prosecution of two non-masons who were involved in a fracas at a masonic lodge's “ladies night” at a hotel in Blackburn in April 1988.

The two were acquitted of assault and in 1995 won an out-of-court settlement of £85,000 from the police and the hotel after pursuing claims including malicious prosecution and assault.

Several retired policemen were at the function, as was local solicitor George Graham, a former police prosecutor who, according to the report, “was involved in the case on behalf of the hotel and the lodge”.

The defence solicitor claimed none of the prosecution witness statements said the function was masonic and it took Burnley CPS six months to inform his clients of the fact.

Director of Public Prosecution Barbara Mills QC told the committee that Graham had “probably” stopped prosecuting by the time the CPS was created in 1986.

Although the MPs reach no final conclusions about the case in the report, they say: “We cannot help but have some misgivings about the way the matter was handled” by the Burnley CPS branch.