Freemasonry: ‘The firm within the firm’
Is there a vaster chasm than that between ‘worthy charitable giving’ and ‘swindlers at the top of society’? This is par for the course though when you do an internet search for the Freemasons.
Last week brought more hard evidence of the latter (and darker), with the second leaked report from UK criminal justice authorities in as many years to conclude that mobsters use Freemasonry to freely recruit corrupt detectives, being one of ‘the most difficult aspects of organized crime corruption to proof against.’
Scotland Yard’s Operation Tiberius report was written over a decade ago but has only this week been made public by The Independent’s investigations editor, Tom Harper. It follows on from Project Riverside, revealed by Channel 4 News’ Andy Davies in March 2012 from the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), which also describes Freemasonry in round terms as ‘a firm within a firm’. Incredible though it may seem, although paid for with public money, both these reports have taken nearly a decade to surface, and then only as partial press leaks.
So why did the authors of Scotland Yard’s Operation Tiberius’ find Freemasons so difficult to winkle out? Most know Freemasonry sits somewhere between a religious cult and a pyramid selling scheme but have no idea where ‘The Craft’ came from, or what makes Masons tick. It’s the oath of secrecy, similar to the Mafia’s Omertà, on pain of death, which, in theory, makes any revelation about ‘The Craft’ a slip of the tongue you can die for.
Behind the lodge door
Masons have a pyramid of initiation through 33 ranks, or ‘degrees’ and belong to geographic ‘Provinces’ overseen by London’s United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). They follow civic county boundaries and each produce an annual yearbook with a tally of lodges followed by members names in each lodge. One would have thought it would be a relatively simple job, therefore, for Scotland Yard detectives to figure out who of their colleagues are in and who are out.
The trouble is those yearbooks are jealously guarded. Masonic Bristol MP, Jack Lopresti, for example, promised me a copy of the latest Bristol Yearbook live on the radio in April 2012 but his provincial secretary, Steve Rawlings, refused to send it. This begs the question: when a senior public figure is low to middling in the secret Masonic hierarchy, who’s really in charge in the world of the ‘profane’, as Masons call the public?