Evening Standard: More Freemasons than Women on City of London Council


Friday 21 September 2018

The 125-strong council contains 24 women and 32 members of the Freemasons leaked email-chain shows

Grand Lodge of England


The Evening Standard, The Londoner

There are more Freemasons than women on the City of London Corporation’s Court of Common Council. Documents have highlighted a diversity problem, as well as drawing attention to the potentially disproportionate influence of the Freemasons.

An email chain leaked to The Londoner shows that the 125-strong council contains 24 women and 32 members of the Freemasons. The revelation raises questions over whether it’s appropriate for the group, which does not admit women, to maintain such a strong presence. The Court of Common Council is the primary decision-making body of the corporation, responsible for representing the City’s diverse workforce and more than 9,000 citizens.

The influence of Freemasons on the council has been under scrutiny for some time. Minutes for a City Standards Committee meeting in 2016 state that “a member commented that, whilst he was nervous speaking on the subject, he questioned whether Freemasonry could lead to political interference or unconscious bias”.

There were also suggestions that the Freemasons, whose headquarters are found in Covent Garden, received reduced rates for the use of City property. In the minutes of a separate Standards Committee meeting, when questioned about “the use of the Guildhall Crypts by the Masonic lodges”, it is recorded that “the Town Clerk added that she had been informed that the lodges received preferential rates on the basis that they had clear City of London/Member links”.

“It is not appropriate that an all-male society is allowed preferential use of a public building,” Labour councillor for Farringdon Within Thomas Anderson told us yesterday when asked for comment. “I am at a loss to why the Freemasons are allowed special treatment.” A representative of City of London Corporation denied that the suggestions reflected policy.

Approached by The Londoner, the United Grand Lodge of England responded:

“Freemasonry teaches its members a system of values, good conduct and service to others. We understand that The Guildhall Lodge is charged on the same basis as the Guildhall Historical Society and many other members’ groups unconnected with Freemasonry.  If those who made these allegations had spoken to the many Freemasons (both male and female) amongst their own number, but who are often afraid to be open about their membership because of prejudiced and archaic views about Freemasonry, they would have realised that Freemasonry is a force for good in society.”

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