The Law Society is retreating from a promise to find out how many council members are freemasons, because it says MPs have already published their report on masons in the police and the judiciary.
In February, Derek Sands, chair of the Law Society's criminal law committee, agreed to a request by the Home Affairs committee to find out, by an anonymous survey, how many of the 78 Law Society Council members are masons.
But it has emerged that the society has now decided not to carry out the survey after all, as the committee has already published its report.
John Franks, a member of the council, who said he was not a mason, revealed he had objected strongly to the idea of a survey on the grounds that it smacked of a “fascist witch hunt”.
But Franks said that by the time he had made his objections known, the report – which was published on 19 March – either had been published or was about to be, meaning it was too late for a survey in any case.
Phillip Sycamore, who is understood to have supported the stance adopted by Franks, was unavailable for comment. But Russell Wallman, the Law Society's director of policy, said: “I think we were a bit puzzled as to how this came into the terms of reference of their inquiry in any case.
“I don't think it would have been possible for us to do it in that time. It was something that we didn't treat as urgent or necessary… I don't think all the relevant people were around at the time.”
Sands said he understood some of Franks' objections. “It's a dead issue now they have published the report,” he said.