Letter: An open secret

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The Independent Online
Sir: The short answer to Chris Mullin's question 'Do we ever learn from our mistakes?', in his article on the Royal Commission set up when the Birmingham Six were released (7 July), is that he hasn't yet. He persists in promulgating his mistaken view of Freemasonry - perhaps because if he admitted he was wrong his pet horse would not carry him.

Once again I have to say that Freemasonry is not a secret society. Statute says it is not unlawful. Practice shows that it is not secret. Mr Mullin is wrong to categorise as secret a society whose aims and basic principles are a matter of public record, whose rule book is on sale to the public, whose meeting places are known (and some, such as Freemasons' Hall in Great Queen Street, are open to the public) and whose members are encouraged in appropriate circumstances to disclose their membership. A reluctance to flaunt membership, born either of Freemasonry's insistence that it should not be used to advance interests or of fear that disclosure will be so misunderstood as to harm the discloser may fairly be called an inclination to privacy, but it is not secrecy.

Freemasons concerned in the administration of justice (as in any other walk of life) know very clearly that their civil duties take priority over masonic interests, as they take priority over any other private interests. To compel them to declare their membership in a public register is not necessary, and Mr Mullin should know that.

Yours faithfully,

M. B. S. HIGHAM

Grand Secretary

United Grand Lodge of England

London, WC2

14 July

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