Two Freemasons‘ lodges established for members of parliament and political journalists are continuing to operate secretly at Westminster, it has been reported. (*See update below.)
Freemasonry records show New Welcome Lodge, set up for MPs, peers and parliamentary staff, and Gallery Lodge, for the political press corps known as the lobby, both remain active, according to The Guardian.
The newspaper said a lodge known as the Alfred Robbins Lodge, which was also established for journalists, also continues to meet regularly in London.
Identities of the members remain unknown outside the world of Freemasonry, with apparently few journalists at Westminster even aware of the existence of Gallery Lodge.
David Staples, the chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons in England and Wales, denied there was any incompatibility between being a journalist or politician and being a Freemason.
“Contrary to populist perception, being a Freemason helps those members in roles serving society in the broader sense, including journalists, politicians, policemen and lawyers, to be better in those jobs by encouraging them to act as better people themselves,” he told the paper.
“Their membership is a positive for both them as individuals, and for society at large.”
The UGLE said that Gallery Lodge currently had 45 members while Alfred Robbins Lodge has 18.
A spokesman said: “None of the members who have joined either of these two lodges since 2000 have their occupation recorded as journalist or anything obviously linked to the newspaper industry.”
It is unclear how many of their members joined before that year.
The Guardian said that New Welcome Lodge had about 30 to 40 members, of whom only around four were understood to be MPs, while none are peers.
* Update. The United Grand Lodge of England has asked us to make clear that the two lodges referred to in this article are not “secret” (their existence being public knowledge) and that they meet only in Camden, not Westminster. UGLE says neither lodge has current MPs or journalists as members and that New Welcome Lodge has 22 members, not 30 to 40. 22/2/18
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies