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The resignation of Sir Frederick Crawford, the head of the new body for investigating miscarriages of justice, was called for yesterday following the disclosure that he is a senior Freemason. Sir Frederick, chairman of the Criminal Cases Review Commission which later this year takes over responsibility for referring suspected miscarriages to the Court of Appeal, is an office bearer in the Holy Royal Arch. Senior police officers including the last three Commissioners for the Metropolitan Police, have all declared it preferable for officers not to be Freemasons.

Chris Mullin, the Labour MP who played a key role in the Birmingham Six case, said: "I did not believe [the Home Office] would be daft enough to appoint a Freemason to a post as sensitive as this ... if Sir Frederick is interested in justice ... he ought to be considering whether he is the best person for the job." The Home Office declined to confirm yesterday that ministers and officials knew of Sir Frederick's membership when appointing him.