Letter: Masonic honour

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I resent the suggestion that I have used my Masonic office or my professional occupation to interfere with the duties of the trustees of a charitable trust or to place them under any duress ("Freemasons in an unbrotherly feud over Bronte's old lodge", 26 July).

Any Provincial Grand Master, whatever his calling, would have acted as I did. I have a duty to see that the Brethren observe the high standards required by Grand Lodge, designed to maintain the ancient values of acting lawfully, honourably, charitably and as gentlemen.

Having discovered that unease was leading tenant lodges to leave Duncombe Place, I ordered an inquiry into the matter. I did not take part in the inquiry or devise its rules. I simply ensured that it took place in accordance with established rules and allowed everyone a full right to take part. I then made decisions on the basis of the findings submitted to me. The findings and my decisions were strictly limited to Masonic matters. They involved the manner in which the charitable trust was set up but not the subsequent exercise of their duties by the trustees.

After the failed reconciliation meeting it was I who contacted the Charity Commissioners to ask them to accept the sum in question as stakeholders and to appoint a senior member to arbitrate what should happen to it.

I must protest at the use of the expression "secretive hierarchy". I have always favoured a policy of openness, as does Grand Lodge. Yearbooks are published by Grand Lodge which can be purchased by anyone. If you look in Who's Who you will see that I make no secret of my position in Masonry. I am proud of it.

Judge GERALD COLES QC

Provincial Grand Master

Provincial Grand Lodge of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings

York

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