Two Freemasons’ lodges set up for members of parliament and political journalists are continuing to operate secretly at Westminster, the Guardian has learned.
New Welcome Lodge, which recruits MPs, peers and parliamentary staff, and Gallery Lodge, established for members of the political press corps known as the lobby, both remain active, according to Freemasonry records.
A third lodge called the Alfred Robbins Lodge, which was also set up for journalists, also continues to meet regularly in London.
The identities of the members of these three lodges remain unknown outside the world of Freemasonry, however, and so discreet are the members of Gallery Lodge that few journalists working in the lobby appear to be aware of its existence.
One current member of New Welcome told the Guardian that its members keep Gallery Lodge masons at arm’s length, on the grounds that while they are fellow members of the brotherhood, they are still journalists, and “they wouldn’t want journalists listening to their conversations”.
David Staples, the chief executive of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE), the governing body for Freemasons in England and Wales, said there was no contradiction between the practice of journalism and membership of Freemasonry.
“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. Their membership is a positive for both them as individuals, and for society at large,” he said.
More Freemasons would declare their membership, he added, if they did not fear prejudice and discrimination: “There should be no conflict between an individual choosing whether to declare their membership or not with that individual’s ability to do their job well. But there is, because some choose to believe otherwise, and some of our detractors are doing so based on nothing other than blind prejudice.”
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