Parliament probes influence of freemasonry on profession

LAWYERS are being invited to submit evidence to a Parliamentary investigation into the role of freemasons and other secret societies in public life.

The Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into masonic influence is particularly interested in the police force and the legal profession.

Labour MP and committee member Chris Mullin has advised anybody who wishes to give evidence to contact the committee clerk.

He said: “The inquiry is not expected to commence until some time next year, but it will be useful to have written submissions as soon as possible.”

The inquiry was prompted by concerns that secret societies may exert a hidden influence on bodies which are supposed to represent the public interest.

Three years ago, Mullin, MP for Sunderland South, moved a Bill which would have made it a legal requirement for public servants to declare membership of such organisations.

Mullin told the Commons at the time: “Membership by public servants of secret societies is incompatible with democracy and undermines public confidence in public institutions.”

He added: “With the possible exception of the legal profession, there can be few professions in which freemasons are as well represented as they are in the police.”

Writer Martin Short, whose book Inside the Brotherhood is seen as an authority on freemasonry, says lawyers are well-represented among the 320,000 masons in England and Wales.

The Law Society said it would co-operate with the committee if requested. A spokesman said the rules appeared to have no specific reference to membership of secret societies but duty to the client was paramount and solicitors in breach of that would be subject to disciplinary action.

A Solicitors Complaints Bureau spokeswoman said: “Occasionally we do receive a letter outlining some concern that a solicitor may or may not be acting in the best interests of their client because they are a member of a secret society.

“Given that this activity should be outside of the professional relationship between solicitor and client, we would only take such allegations into consideration if there was sufficient evidence of professional misconduct relating to this.”

Letters to Crispin Poyser, clerk, Home Affairs Select Committee, House of Commons, London SW1A OAA.