Transparency in the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
December 9, 2014
Question By: 
Caroline Pidgeon
Organisation: 
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)

Question

That is really reassuring, Commissioner, because I think trust is really essential for the public and we have had some really recent high-profile cases where we have seen respected celebrities and other public servants jailed, some of them as paedophiles, and their hideous crimes uncovered, and I think with this sort of thing going on it is really important for the public to have absolute trust in the police and their investigations.

 

Mr Mayor, do you think it is right for the MPS to have a compulsory public register of interests, including membership of the freemasons?

Answer

Answer for Transparency in the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Transparency in the Metropolitan Police Service (Supplementary) [1]

Answered By: 
Boris Johnson (Mayor of London) & Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis)

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I certainly think that the MPS should, if there is any question of a crime being committed by somebody who is a freemason, and the member of the MPS knows it, the trouble is that they have to register their membership of the freemasons.  However, as I understand it, you do not have an existing register of all cops who are masons.

 

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  What we have, and I was incomplete in my answer, I am sorry about that, is that we have a register of what I call associations, so there are things like we have a list here and I will not read right through it, however if you have a relationship with a person with convictions, if you have a relationship with persons charged with a criminal offence, these are associations that should be notified for the obvious reasons really, and so you go on.  I think we are about the only organisation that says you have to declare membership of the  BNP [British National Party], for example, and it is incompatible with being a police officer.  Therefore I think we can show we have had that register and that sort of duty to report.  Where I think the deeper question perhaps might be is whether this particular organisation, if we should have to register it.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The question is, should members of the MPS have to register their membership of the freemasons as a matter of course, any more than they have to register their membership of the Women’s Institute, for instance, or whatever they belong to.  As I understand it, although you might like to have such a register, the European Court, which is itself, and all European institutions, as everybody knows, the EU is full of masons, they have said that is not possible.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Back in 1999, the Home Office made all police officers complete a declaration on freemasonry.  This has not continued since.  However, interestingly in October last year police officers who were freemasons were banned by the IPCC from working on the criminal investigation into Hillsborough issues.  Therefore it is quite clear that there are concerns around freemasonry, in my research for my question today I was looking at some footage around North Wales and some of the issues around a paedophile ring there, and there were very clear issues raised around the possibility of freemasonry being involved there.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  You mean they are all protecting each other?

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Therefore I just feel that we need transparency if people are to have full confidence in the police, therefore I am wondering whether, Mr Mayor, you will support looking at how you can find a way that police officers would have to declare whether they are members of the freemasons.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I will.  Hands up who is not a mason?  Is not.  OK, so not much freemasonry here then, OK.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  We know in the past Members of this Authority have had to declare, and I think we --

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Dismore! My God, he is a Mason!

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  -- do have at least a couple of members of the freemasons here --

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Do we?! Who?!

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM: -- however that is not the issue today –

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  OK, sorry.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  The issue I am trying to raise is about confidence in the police, and given the historic cases of child sexual abuse that have been reported, including allegations of this VIP paedophile ring in Westminster, I think it is absolutely vital that the MPS who are investigating this are seen to be open and transparent to declare any membership of such organisations.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Hang on a minute, before you --

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  Will you look at that?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I think, before you -- I mean you are making a pretty heavy charge here, Caroline –

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM: I am being very careful in what I am saying.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): as I understand it, which is that you seem to be, on the basis of hearsay, you seem to be suggesting that the freemasons are involved in paedophile rings and protecting each other from -- is that what you are saying?

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  I said there have been allegations of this.  I am not saying it is definitely true or not.  I am saying there are allegations.  Can I ask the Commissioner --

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  I have to say I read the news pretty closely.  It is the first time I have heard it but you obviously have better intelligence about these things.  I think it is a pretty serious charge to make.  As far as I can remember, the Duke of Kent is the leading freemason, he is.  There are all sorts of people doing funny handshakes all over the place and there probably have been for thousands of years.  I think it is a bit of a long day’s march to say they are all involved in a plot to conceal paedophile murders.  I think you ought to be careful about that.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  I am careful about it.  I would like to ask the Commissioner a final question then on this.  I did really welcome your response.  Given there are concerns out there in the public, will you ensure that none of the officers who are investigating the alleged Westminster paedophile ring are members of organisations such as the freemasons?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  They have to. 

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM:  I am asking the Commissioner.

 

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  Right.  I think all I can do is tell you what the law is at the moment.  In 2007, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment, which I will not bother giving you the title of, said:

 

“Any requirement to declare membership of freemasonry is in violation of Article 11 which is the right to have lawful association taken in conjunction with Article 14, the right not to be discriminated against of the European Convention and Human Rights.”

 

This ruling was taken into account by the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw [MP], in 2009 to end the Government stance of seeking to require applicants for judicial office to declare membership of the freemasons.  I will consider what you have said.

 

Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM: Thank you.

 

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM (Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis):  That is the legal advice we have and it cannot be ignored.