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A solicitor who is a Freemason has told the Home Affairs Committee investigating Freemasonry in the judiciary that he was excluded from his lodge because he acted against a fellow lodge member.
Committee vice chairman Labour MP Chris Mullin questioned the Grand Secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England, Commander Michael Higham, about a letter the committee had received from the solicitor.
He told Higham: "He found himself acting against another member of his own lodge and, as a result, he was told that he was persona non grata and was prevented from entering the lodge. He wrote to the Grand Lodge and you wrote back quoting rule 126, which says his presence is likely to disturb the harmony of the lodge."
Higham said he had no know- ledge of the case. "Rule 126 applies to exclusion for one night, another rule applies for permanent exclusion. His story may be that he was treated unfairly, but we do not know the other side," he said.
Higham revealed that between 1987 and 1986, 277 Masons had been expelled from their lodges for criminal convictions. He said disciplinary procedures had been "rejuvenated" in 1987, although he denied that it was a result of widespread bad publicity resulting from two books about Freemasonry published in 1984 and 1989. There had only been 12 expulsions between 1934 and 1996, when Masons convicted of crimes were expected to "do the decent thing" and resign, he said.
Because of the approaching general election, the committee has cancelled sessions at which the Crown Prosecution Service and the Bar Council were to give oral evidence about Freemasonry.
However, the Bar Council and Dame Barbara Mills QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, have both sent written submissions, which will be published when the committee produces its final report before the general election.