THE NORTH Wales Child Abuse Tribunal cleared freemasonry of any involvement in covering up child abuse.
FULL ARTICLE HERE
But why did some fascinating information about the brotherhood never come to light?
Why did the Tribunal’s own leading counsel not declare that he was a mason?
And why was there no mention of a police lodge during the public hearings?
REBECCA investigates how freemasonry came out of the inquiry smelling of roses …
THE WATERHOUSE Tribunal set the tone for its approach to freemasonry right from day one.
In the very first session the barrister for one of the groups of former residents of care homes made an application about masonry.
The barrister, Nick Booth, asked that “the Tribunal should keep a register of the masonic membership amongst its staff, the members, its representatives and witnesses who appear before it”.
He explained: “The duty of loyalty to a brother mason and his duty of impartiality if he is involved in the administration of justice is not a new one and it’s one that’s very much in the public eye, particularly at the moment.”
“The Tribunal will be aware of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee which is investigating the issue,” he added.
“Sir, I stress, if I have not stressed it before, that I am not making any suggestion of disreputable conduct, merely to put the matter beyond the reach of any possible public comment which might undermine the public confidence in the Inquiry.”
The chairman of the Tribunal, Sir Ronald Waterhouse, and the two other members of the Tribunal, retired for a brief adjournment.
“It will not surprise you that the application is refused,” said Sir Ronald on their return.
“As far as the staff are concerned,” Sir Ronald said, “in so far as the application carries any reflection upon the integrity of the staff of the Tribunal it’s repudiated, wholly unwarranted; there is no evidence whatsoever to support any suggestion that they have not acted with complete integrity…”
“The members of the Tribunal are in this position: the Tribunal was set up by Parliament and the members of it were appointed by the Secretary of State for Wales and the [criticism of the composition] should be addressed through the proper channels.”
He said that the Tribunal’s own Counsel, Gerard Elias QC, was appointed by the Attorney General.
“Any criticism … should be addressed through the usual Parliamentary channels,” he suggested.
Gerard Elias said nothing during Booth’s application and he remained silent after Sir Ronald had made the Tribunal’s ruling.
Yet both Sir Ronald and Gerard Elias knew something that journalists reporting the Tribunal would have wanted to know.
Gerard Elias is a mason. He’s a member of perhaps the most powerful masonic lodge in Wales, Dinas Llandaf. The lodge, which meets in Cardiff, is made up mainly of legal professionals and members of the Conservative party, although there are members from other political groups.
Another member of the lodge, Gwilym Jones, was the Tory MP for Cardiff North between 1983 and 1997. He was minister of state at the Welsh Office when the Tribunal was set up.
REBECCA has a source who was close to the heart of the Tribunal. This source says Sir Ronald was aware of Elias’ masonic membership. Yet he too kept silent about the fact that the Tribunal’s own Counsel was a mason.
What happened at the Tribunal was in contrast to proceedings at the beginning of Gordon Anglesea’s libel case in London less than three years earlier.
Gordon Anglesea was a retired North Wales Police superintendent who was accused by journalists of abusing young boys at a children’s home in North Wales. He won a libel action and accepted £375,000 in damages.
The judge was Sir Maurice Drake. He told the court that he was a member of an organisation to which Gordon Anglesea also belonged. He did not mention freemasonry but all of the legal teams on both sides knew which organisation he was referring to.
There were no objections and no one ever questioned the way he handled the case.
Dinas Llandaf is one of the 174 lodges in the South Wales Province. South Wales is one of the more open of the 47 provinces in England and Wales.
Every year it gives copies of its annual yearbook to libraries and to any journalist who asks for one. The yearbooks list the officers of each lodge and the current issue – 2009-2010– gives considerable detail about Dinas Llandaf.
For example, it shows all the officers of the lodge and those members who have reached the highest position – master of the lodge. Gerard Elias is shown as having been master in 1994.
However, the North Wales Province is a completely closed book. It refuses to give out copies of its yearbook and these come into the public domain only occasionally.
For the directory of freemasons in Apron Strings, for example, REBECCA had to make do with one for 1995-96.
In 1995 a copy of the same yearbook came into the hands of Mark Brittain who was, at the time, Editor of the North Wales Weekly News. He quickly spotted a lodge called Custodes Pacis which was formed in 1983.
He was told many members of Custodes Pacis – it’s Latin for Keepers of the Peace – were serving or retired police officers. Police lodges are not uncommon with the best known being London’s Manor of St James which at one point contained many senior officers of the Metropolitan Police.
In 1995 Brittain wrote to the recently appointed Chief Constable of North Wales, Michael Argent, and asked him for an interview. He asked if the new chief was aware of the lodge. Argent wrote back to agree to an interview but told the journalist he could find no evidence of a police lodge.
When Brittain met Argent he told him he had evidence of the lodge’s existence and, after the meeting, sent him the lodge entry from the 1995-96 yearbook.
Argent wrote back in April. He now admitted that the lodge list “did indeed contain names known to me and my colleagues although in each case they were retired from the force – in some instances for quite a considerable period.”
Brittain wrote back to ask if he was sure that there were no serving officers. In May 1995 Argent replied and said that further enquiries had been undertaken.
“Mark Brittain seemed to know more about masonic influence in North Wales Police than the chief constable did.”
“I am reliably informed that whilst, as I have suggested to you in my earlier letter, it consists mainly of retired police officers – certainly up to superintendent level – there are only four currently serving officers. Three are identified as constables and the fourth is either a constable or at most a sergeant.”
Brittain says Michael Argent’s story changed three times during this correspondence.
The man who was chief constable when Custodes Pacis was set up in 1983 was David Owen. When he gave evidence to the Tribunal, he did not mention the existence of the lodge…
We wrote to David Owen to ask him why he didn’t tell the Tribunal about the lodge. He rang back to say he didn’t want to answer questions.
In September 1997, during the North Wales Child Abuse Tribunal hearings, Brittain wrote to the North Wales police authority, which is responsible for the non-policing aspects of the force.
The then clerk to the authority, Leon Gibson, wrote back to say that the information about the membership of Custodes Pacis had come from an unnamed lodge member.
Gibson added that if the Chief Constable “remembers correctly, there were five, one sergeant and four constables.”
The barrister who represented North Wales Police at the Tribunal was Andrew Moran, QC. In his opening address, he made it clear that the force felt that masonry was an irrelevance.
He listed many of the senior policemen who had played a role in the child abuse investigations and said, “I am instructed to add, irrelevant though it should be, that none … is a Freemason.”
He added: “Where then, please, we ask is the masonic influence? Freemason[s] at the top of the North Wales Police? There are none … Mason-free zone, we would say.”
In this opening address, he did an unusual thing. He said none of these people “is” a freemason and did not add the usual rider “or has been” when dealing with masonic membership.
He therefore left open the question of whether any of these senior officers had ever been masons.
The Report of the Tribunal reported this statement with slightly different wording; “at the outset of the Inquiry Counsel for the North Wales Police stated, on the instructions of the Chief Constable, that none of the current or former senior officers from Assistant Chief Constable upwards during the period under review had been a freemason and that the same was true of the relevant Detective Chief Superintendents and Detective Superintendent Ackerley.”
Ackerley was the Superintendent who headed the major police inquiry into child abuse between 1991 and 1993.
REBECCA wrote to Sir Ronald Waterhouse about how the word “is” had changed into “had been.” He never replied.
During the public hearings of the Tribunal freemasonry was little discussed, as its report makes clear: “Although this question was quite widely discussed in the press before the Tribunal’s hearings began very few questions were asked about it during our inquiry and most of them were put by the Chairman of the Tribunal to give appropriate witnesses an opportunity to affirm or deny any connection with freemasonry.”
REBECCA sent a list of all the male barristers who appeared before the Tribunal to the United Grand Lodge of England and asked how many of them were freemasons.
REBECCA also asked if the police assessor to the Tribunal, Sir Ronald Hadfield, and the retired police officers who made up the Tribunal’s witness interviewing team were masons.
A spokesman replied: “I’m afraid I am unable to give you the information you require. We would only do so if you were an official body making that request.”
When the Tribunal reported in 2000, its verdict was clear: “Freemasonry had no impact on any of the police investigations and was not relevant to any other issue arising from our terms of reference.”
The most important known mason who appeared before the Tribunal was the retired Superintendent Gordon Anglesea who won a libel action against journalists who wrongly accused him of abusing children.
“Anglesea was questioned also about his connection with Freemasonry,” said the Tribunal Report, “because of an underlying suggestion that there had been a ‘cover-up’ in his case. He disclosed that he had become a full member of Berwyn Lodge in Wrexham, in 1982, after being a probationer in a lodge at Colwyn Bay from about 1976.”
“He had then transferred to a new Wrexham lodge, Pegasus lodge, in 1984 after a gap from April to September, because it offered an opportunity for swifter advance in freemasonry.”
The Tribunal Report then says he remained a member of the Pegasus Lodge despite a directive from the Chief Constable of the North Wales Police, David Owen, in September 1984.
This directive stated: “We must be seen to be even-handed in the discharge of our office and my policy will be to say that if you have considered joining the Masons, think carefully about how that application might interfere with your primary duty.”
“To those who are Masons I would say that you should consider carefully how right it is to continue such membership. In the open society in which we live that openness must be seen by all and must not be an openness partially [clouded] by a secrecy where people could question true motivation.”
During cross-examination of Anglesea at the Tribunal, Tim King QC, representing former residents of children’s homes, asked him if Owen’s directive had upset or concerned him.
“Not whatsoever, sir,” replied Anglesea, “I read that order two or three times and it did not – I felt it did not affect my particular position.”
1984 was a watershed year for public scrutiny of masonry. That year saw the publication of Stephen Knight’s The Brotherhood which followed other press investigations such the 1981 REBECCA article Darkness Visible.
The same year Metropolitan Commissioner Sir Kenneth Newman and Albert Laugharne, an assistant commissioner, published “The Principles of Policing” which made it clear that membership of freemasonry left officers open to suspicion.
“Thus an officer must pay the most careful regard to the impression which others are likely to gain of his membership, as well as to what he actually does, however inhibiting he may find this when arranging his own private life.”
David Owen’s response to these developments was to call a conference of superintendents which decided to issue the directive.
Within a month of Owen circulating it, the Provincial Grand Master of North Wales, Lord Kenyon, asked to meet with him. The two men knew each other well: Kenyon was also a member of the police authority.
The meeting took place at Wrexham police station. Lord Kenyon was accompanied by the secretary of the province, Leonard Ellis.
Solicitors acting for the masons wrote to the Tribunal in an attempt to get this anecdote removed on the grounds that it was irrelevant to the Tribunal’s work.
The Tribunal rejected the attempt and its report described what happened when the Provincial Grand Master came face to face with the Chief Constable.
David Owen told the Grand Master that he had no intention of withdrawing his directive about freemasonry…
“At this meeting Lord Kenyon argued that the directive was totally misguided and asked that it should be withdrawn and he mentioned that a police officer (unidentified but not Anglesea) had been about to take the chair in a North Wales lodge but had declined to do so because of this directive.”
“Owen’s evidence was that he told Lord Kenyon that he had no intention of withdrawing the directive. In response, Lord Kenyon argued that the Chief Constable knew nothing at all about freemasonry and suggested it would be appropriate for him to join a lodge, such as the one at Denbigh, outside any area of his usual working activity, but this invitation was declined.”
David Owen wasn’t the first chief constable Lord Kenyon had dealt with. Four years earlier the grand master welcomed Sir Walter Stansfield back to North Wales after he retired as Derbyshire’s chief constable and brought his police career to a close.
Sir Walter had been chief constable of the Denbigh force before the reorganisation which led to the creation of the North Wales Police. He was deputy chief constable of North Wales in 1967 when he was appointed Derbyshire’s chief constable.
When he left North Wales to take up the Derbyshire post, he didn’t sever his links with North Wales. He joined a new masonic lodge, Dyfrdwy, which met at Ruabon, becoming its master a year later, in 1968.
In 1981 REBECCA asked Sir Walter Stansfield why he had chosen to join a North Wales lodge after he left North Wales Police. Had he been a member of a lodge in another part of the country?
Sir Walter didn’t take kindly to being questioned on the subject. He said: “Who do you think you’re talking to?” He then denied being Sir Walter Stansfield even though the telephone number he was speaking on was listed in his name.
Sir Walter also makes a cameo appearance in Martin Short’s book about freemasonry, Inside The Brotherhood. After Sir Walter left Derbyshire, the English force was rocked by the Alf Parrish scandal.
Parrish was appointed chief constable in 1981 but soon squandered police funds for his own comfort. He was driven out of office by which time it was discovered that he was a mason as were many of the police authority members who appointed him.
The key masons belonged to the oldest lodge in Derbyshire, Tryian. A provincial yearbook obtained by Labour councillors in the mid-1980s revealed that another member of the lodge was Sir Walter Stansfield…
Lord Kenyon told a Grand Lodge meeting that masons have nothing to hide “but we object to having our affairs investigated by outsiders.”
Back in 1981, North Wales Provincial Grand Master Lord Kenyon responded to increasing media attention, including REBECCA coverage, by making a statement to masons in the province.
“… we have nothing to hide and certainly nothing to be ashamed of, but we object to having our affairs investigated by outsiders.”
“We would be able to answer many of the questions likely to be asked, if not all of them, but we have found that silence is the best policy: comment or correction only breeds further inquiry and leads to the publicity we try to avoid.”
The child abuse Tribunal’s report also dismissed any suggestion that Lord Kenyon had tried to promote the career of Gordon Anglesea.
The Report concluded that “there is no evidence that Lord Kenyon intervened at any time in any way on behalf of Anglesea.”
The Tribunal did consider a comment made by Councillor Malcolm King, who was also a former chairman of the North Wales Police Authority, that “there was speculation (he believed) that Lord Kenyon had asked for promotion for Gordon Anglesea.”
“This was said by Councillor King to have been based on a conversation overheard at a police function; and that the speculation was that Lord Kenyon had advocated Anglesea’s promotion ‘for the purpose of covering up the fact that his son had been involved in child abuse activities’.”
This was alleged to have related to an incident in August 1979 when Lord Kenyon’s son, Tom, reported the theft of articles by a former Bryn Estyn resident while the two men were staying at a flat in Wrexham. The young man he accused of theft was arrested and later given three months detention.
However, during the course of the investigation police discovered a series of indecent photographs in the flat which was owned by a man called Gary Cooke.
Cooke was later gaoled for five years on two counts of buggery, one of indecent assault and one of taking an indecent photograph.
Cooke claimed that, after he was arrested and charged, Tom Kenyon came over and apologised to him for what had happened and handed him a letter.
He added that if Cooke agreed “not to say anything” he would have a word with his father to improve Cooke’s chances in court.
Cooke says he gave this letter to the police. The officers who dealt with the case say they received no such letter.
Cooke believed that Tom Kenyon’s intervention shortened his sentence.
However, when Superintendent Ackerley was carrying out his investigation into this case, he discovered that the prosecution file could not be found.
The Tribunal’s investigators discovered that there was no evidence Cooke had been shown any favour: he served a full third of his sentence. In any case, the Report added, Lord Kenyon had no influence with the parole board.
The Tribunal’s Report conclusion was damning: “We have received no evidence whatsoever in support of this allegation and it appears to have been merely a malicious rumour.”
Councillor King was actually combining two separate rumours here: the first that Lord Kenyon had spoken up for Anglesea at a police function, the second that it was somehow related to favours Anglesea was alleged to have done for his son.
The Tribunal should have known that the first rumour, that Lord Kenyon had spoken up for Anglesea, had rather more substance. The source of the anecdote was Harry Templeton, a former constable and once the secretary of the Police Federation branch in North Wales Police.
The reason the Tribunal should have known about it was that two members of its own Witness Interviewing Team, made up of retired police officers who were not from North Wales, went to talk to Templeton.
Templeton told them he had been to a function at the senior officers’ dining room at Police Headquarters in Colwyn Bay and was sitting opposite Lord Kenyon who was present as a magistrate member of the Police Authority.
Templeton told the Tribunal team that Lord Kenyon had said that he was surprised Gordon Anglesea, then a chief inspector, had not been promoted to Superintendent and that he would see to it that he was promoted before he retired.
Templeton told them he’d made a signed affidavit about the incident for a national newspaper. Templeton also told the Tribunal team there was another witness to the remark, Peter Williams, the then chairman of the Police Federation branch.
Templeton never said anything about Lord Kenyon’s advocating a promotion for Gordon Anglesea having anything to do with Tom Kenyon’s case. This suggestion, he says, must have come from somewhere else.
When REBECCA sent Templeton details of the Tribunal’s findings in relation to this anecdote, he was shocked. He says that the two retired Tribunal detectives had not taken a signed statement from him and he now feels there is a question mark about what they did with the information he gave them.
REBECCA also spoke to Peter Williams who said that the Tribunal never came to see him. He confirmed that he was at the function with Harry Templeton in their official roles as Police Federation representatives.
He recalls that Lord Kenyon expressed his surprise that Gordon Anglesea had not been promoted. He does not remember him saying that he would see that it took place before he retired.