Masons threaten legal action to keep anonymity (UK)
IRNA ^ | June 11
Posted on 6/11/2002 7:22:08 AM by Int
Masons threaten legal action to keep anonymity
London, June 11, IRNA - Freemasons in Britain are threatening legal action to prevent the government from forcing its members in the police and other parts of the country's criminal justice system from identifying themselves.The United Grand Lodge, the London headquarters of the secret brotherhood, has taken legal advice that any plans to make disclosure compulsory would be is criminatory under Britain's recent Human Rights Act, the Financial Times reported Tuesday.
"We believe we are being singled out in a way that implies there is something wrong in being a freemason," the Grand Lodge's head of communications John Hamill was quoted saying. The British government made disclosure of freemasonry membership in the police and criminal justice system voluntary in 1979 following
concern in parliament over the role of improper influence by the secret brotherhood in public life.
But the response to voluntary registration has been slow and the Home Office has said that it has not ruled out making disclosure compulsory. According to the Financial Times, freemasons, who are estimated to number more than 300,000 in Britain, are encouraged by recent developments in Wales' devolved assembly following the incorporation of the European Human Rights Charter into British law.
Next month, the Cardiff-based assembly is due to vote out a stipulation that its elected members must register whether they are a freemason before taking office, fearing that it could be open to challenge under the Human Rights Act. Hamill was reported to be also masterminding a public relations exercise to dispel public suspicions about the activities of freemasons by drawing attention to the non-controversial and charitable activities undertaken by the brotherhood.