In the 1970s the old CID porn squad was so corrupt it had to be disbanded. I was assigned to the uniform squad which replaced it. We used to raid one dirty bookshop after another but, whenever I tried to fix a formal interview date with the shop owners, they would pull out their diaries and say pointedly, ‘Sorry, I can’t make Tuesday. It’s my lodge night, you understand.’
They automatically assumed I was a Mason, which was not surprising since the crooked detectives we had replaced were all Masons. By letting me know they were ‘on the square’ the pornographers clearly expected me to drop my inquiries. Of course, the Masonic fix had been going on for so many years they had every expectation it would soon be ‘business as usual’. I was so disgusted that I resigned from my lodge.
Another Yard officer also quit the Craft about this time. He is now ranked just below chief constable in another force:
I joined my lodge just after I had become a sergeant. I went along for a year and met some spendid people. I confess it struck me as a wonderful thing for a policeman’s career, but my career was going splendidly anyway. The lodge meetings were very boring – the most infernally boring thing I have ever been involved in. Also, my job as a detective was taking such long and irregular hours that I could not get along each week to my lodge of instruction. And when I was free I preferred to spend time with my wife and children.
For me the crunch came when we raided a notorious West End nightclub where the hostesses were really prostitutes. I was about to charge the owners with living off immoral earnings when they appealed to me ‘on the square’. They were my brother Masons and expected me to let them off. I ignored the approach and went ahead and charged them. When the case came up at the Old Bailey they were acquitted. I was appalled, but I don’t think the rotten verdict had anything to do with Freemasonry.
Unfortunately, not even Scotland Yard’s ‘rubber-heel mob’ – A 10 – was immune from Masonic manipulation. For many years I have known a London solicitor who is a Mason. In the 1970s he had a client who was also a Mason. On his behalf the solicitor made a complaint to A 10 alleging serious criminal misconduct by a detective. In due course an A 10 officer was appointed to investigate. He assured the solicitor that he had never met the detective under investigation, and that he would pursue the inquiry with the utmost zeal. Taught to be cautious, however, the solicitor used his Masonic connections to discover more about the A 10 investigator.
To my horror I discovered he was in the same lodge as the suspect detective. I promptly made another complaint to A 10 saying these men knew each other and that, in the circumstances, they should appoint another investigator. Nothing of the kind! I received a curt reply saying the two men did not know each other and I was mistaken. But I had documentation to prove they had both been masters of the same lodge, and must have known each other very well indeed.
I immediately told my client about this connection and A 10’s response. He was astonighingly philisophical. He said the investigation was now certain to be a whitewash, for no Mason would ever bring criminal charges against a brother Mason in the same lodge. I wanted to have a go at A 10 and produce my conclusive Masonic evidence, but my client insisted on dropping the complaint! What could I do? I was acting on instructions.
At this time A 10 may have been going through teething problems. No such excuse could be made for the Complaints Investigation Bureau, CIB2, which replaced A 10 in the late 1970s. There are many potential conflicts of interest when one policeman investigates another. One of these is Freemasonry and CIB2 must always be aware that hidden Masonic connections might contaminate the fair investigation of complaints. In its short existence CIB2 has had enough Masons among its chiefs to be aware of the very short odds that a Mason could be given the job of investigating on of his Masonnic brothers. In 1979 CIB2’s allied disciplinary team known as CIB3 was headed by Chief Supt. William Gibson. Two years later he was succeeded by Malcolm A. Ferguson. Later still, Kenneth Churchill-Coleman took over. When the Manor of St Jame’s Lodge list leaked out in 1986 who should be on it but Cass, Lampard, Gibson, Ferguson and Churchill-Coleman.
Perhaps all these men would pursue any complaint laid against a Masonic colleague with even greater dedication than one against a non-Mason, if only to prove that Masonic loyalties would not get in their way. But where would a member of the Manor of St Jame’s Lodge stand if he were told to investigate another member? With some fifty serving officers in the lodge, this may very likely happen (if it had not happened already). Ideally, the investigator would refuse the job and suggest a non-Mason do it instead. Heaven help Freemasonry if the public ever find out that a policeman under investigation belongs to the same lodge as his investigator!
A policeman who recently retired from Hampshire Constabulary wrote to me expressing his concern:
A detective I knew was a practising mason and had been master of his lodge. He made no secret of the fact and always wore a masonic ring, tie and cufflinks. This man was, to say the least, unscrupulous in his methods and it was well known in the legal profession that he ‘doctored’ his evidence in court. This was confirmed to me by a barrister. This officer was the subject of several internal discipline inquiries but always appeared to escape prosecution. Senior officers seemed to be afraid of him and I always felt this was because of influential people he moved with socially.
These days internal discipline and anti-corruption units need to be seen to be above reproach and suspicion, otherwise all sorts of lobbies and pressure groups (not just disorganized anti-Masons) will cry ‘Whitewash!’ In 1987 Scotland Yard’s self-cleansing squad was put to the test again as another ‘Masonic’ corruption scandal broke.
Early one morning in July 1987 Detective Constable Alan Holmes shot himself dead in his back garden. Eight months later a corner’s jury confirmed that he had committed suicide, but it did not have to say why. The answer lies in a tangle of personal and work problems complcated by Holme’s Masonic bonds – not that Freemasonry was mentioned at any point during the inquest.
‘Taffy’ Holmes was a stocky 15-stone, broken-nosed, rugby-playing Welshman who drank to excess. He had a wife and children. He also had a mistress. He was totally devoted to the Metropolitan Police in which he had served for twenty-six years. At work he was gregarious, convivial and he would do anything for a friend. At the inquest one colleague said Taffy believed ‘a problem shared is a problem solved’. Another officer felt he had ‘misguided loyalties’. His perceptive father-in-law explained how it ‘seemed essential to Alan that he should be liked by everybody’.
In the days before he died Holmes was under great pressure from the anti-corruption squad, CIB 2, which was investigating alleged links between a detective commander and a man convicted of receiving some of the 26 million Pounds ‘Brinks-MAT’ gold bullion stolen in 1983. The receiver, Kenneth Noye, is also a Freemason; the commander may be one too – but it seems unlikely that the two men have ever met. Even so, CIB 2 felt that Holmes (who worked on the Brinks-MAT robbery investigation) knew about such a relationship. CIB 2 may have arranged for another officer to secretly tape-record Holmes as he gossiped about corrupt acts by fellow-detectives. When Holmes learned about the alleged tape he was plunged into depression, partly because it seems these crooked officers were also Masons. He felt ‘set-up’ and betrayed. At the inquest one colleague (himself under no cloud) explained how, five days before he died, Holmes had returned very upset from an all-day grilling by CIB 2. He talked about another officer whom he had considered a friend but who had ‘let him down and told lies about him’. He said he was going to kill that man and then kill himself. The colleague told the Coroner: ‘He was very upset, but I didn’t think he’d do it’.
Holmes was doubly appalled by this alleged treachery because he had only just introduced the ‘traitor’ into his own Masonic lodge. The treachery was even greater because that year Taffy was Lodge Master. What about the Five Points of Fellowship?: ‘Breast to breast, your lawful secrets when entrusted to me as such I will keep my own.’ Lawful or not, many brothers’ secrets – Holmes included – had been betrayed.
At his funeral Taffy received full police honours. Deputy Commissioner John Dellow led dozens of Scotland Yard mourners. Holmes was eulogized as having ‘a face as hard as granite but a heart as soft and vulnerable as a butterfly’. Most of the eighty wreaths came from police officers, stations and squads, but several were sent openly by Freemasons, including one large floral square-and-compasses. Another bore the inscription: ‘To our brave, wonderful and worhsipful master who chose death rather than dishonour his friends and workmates.’
Death may be better than revealing one’s own dishonour, but killing oneself to cover up for others is taking loyalty too far – even for a Mason. In any case, what did Holmes know which could have dishonoured his friends and workmates? In a suicde note he told his wife, ‘I loved the police and never did them an ounce of harm’, but might not his suicide bring more dishonour on the police than telling the truth about crooked colleagues?
Taffy Holmes was Master of Lodge no. 7114. When I was first told this fact, I thought it might be part of a pattern. Lodge 7114 is another ‘Manor’ lodge: the Manor of Bensham. I wondered if there was a ‘Manor’ lodge for each of the twenty-three old divisions of the Metropolitan Police. Might they all be like the St Jame’s: jam-packed full of fuzz? With a hundred cops in each, the full slate would be 2,300. Further researches uncovered ten more lodges in Greater London with ‘Manor’ in the title, but only three correspond with a Metropolitan Police district and none of them is an all-police lodge. Even the Manor of Bensham recruits from all walks of life, but it does have a strong police connection. In 1986 at least five members were past or present policemen, including retired Commander Arthur Howard, QPM: once had of C 1, Scotland Yard’s chief detective branch. It seems all these officers joined the Lodge while living in Croydon or serving in the local ‘Z’ District.
The full story behind the death of Bensham’s Master may never emerge, but in March 1988 a report appeared in the News of the World saying he died for nothing.(6) It claimed another officer had told Holmes that a tape of his crooked colleagues’ conversation existed when in fact no such recording had been made. Taffy’s shame at having inadvertently betrayed his Masonic brethren was baseless. Whether or not that shame is what drove him to suicide, may the Great Architect have mercy on his soul.
1. Masonic poem by David Barker, quoted in A Treasury of Masonic Thought, Robert Hale, London 1981.
2. This story was told briefly by Stephen Knight in The Brotherhood. I expand on it here to make a different point. For a full account see George Dilnot, The Trial of the Detectives, Geoffrey Bles 1928.
3. If an article was listed as ‘lost’, rather than stolen, no crime would appear to have been committed. Morrish’s experience resembles that of Det. Con. Ron Walker of the Kent Constabulary who alleged in 1986 that some colleagues had been rigging the force’s crime ‘clear-up’ rate by persuading convicted prisoners to confess to crimes which they had not committed.
4. Penguin 1977.
5. See the James Report (Home Office appointed Inquiry into the Challenor Affair), HMSO 1965. Mary Grigg, Challenor Case, Penguin 1965. For a more sympathetic view of Challenor, see Gilbert Kelland, op. cit.
6. News of the World, 20 March 1988.