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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Children in the care of Lambeth Council Investigation Report


H.5: Freemasons

48. As part of this investigation, we considered whether there was evidence of Freemasons influencing investigations into sexual abuse of children in Lambeth Council’s care.

49. The Inquiry received evidence that Donald Hosegood, who was prosecuted for sexually abusing children in his care at Shirley Oaks, waved a Masonic handbook when he was arrested.[1] DI Simon Morley accepted that this was clearly done in an attempt to influence the arresting officers.[2] While the records from the time show that, in DI Morley’s words, “it held no truck” with the arresting officers, it is of concern that Hosegood had the impression that being a Freemason would assist him.[3]

50. The terms of reference for the 1995 report by Elizabeth Appleby QC referred to “the extent of freemasonry within Lambeth”.[4] Elizabeth Appleby QC exchanged correspondence with the Grand Secretary of the Freemasons.[5] She commented in her report:

During the course of my inquiry I have received numerous allegations as to the cause of Lambeth’s problems including the influence of Freemasonry, a ‘Mafia’ exerting pressure over the officers and a pornographic ring holding officers and members to ransom. I have received no evidence to substantiate these allegations.[6]

51. This Inquiry contacted the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body for Freemasonry in England and Wales.[7] We heard evidence from Dr David Staples, who is the chief executive and Grand Secretary.[8] Ahead of Dr Staples giving evidence, a list of names – including perpetrators and alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse within Lambeth Council, members of the Metropolitan Police Service investigating complaints of abuse and Lambeth Council staff – together with, where possible, their dates of birth, was provided to the Grand Lodge to identify whether these individuals matched with members’ details. Dr Staples stated, “I think it would be difficult with absolute certainty to say that somebody was not”.[9] He confirmed that they would not be able to guarantee someone was not a Freemason just because there was not a match.[10] There was, however, one exact match of someone who was a Freemason – this was confirmed to be Donald Hosegood.[11]

52. We also asked male witnesses (the Freemasons being a male-only organisation) who were involved in the investigation of child sexual abuse and gave oral evidence to this Inquiry whether they were Freemasons. The only person who said ‘yes’ was Dr Clive Driscoll, who said that he had been a Freemason for “30-odd years”.[12] He said that, during his time as a police officer, no one had ever approached him about “looking the other way” as a result of being a Freemason.[13] Mr Gargini told the Inquiry that he was not, nor had ever been, a Freemason.[14] Mr Pope told us that he was not a Freemason and similarly had never been one.[15] Mr Osmond also said that he was not a Freemason, as did Mr Clark of the SSI.[16]

53. The Inquiry did not receive any direct evidence of Freemasonry influencing or obstructing the investigation of child sexual abuse. We understand from the closing submissions of Lambeth Council that the requirement to sign a declaration of interest for all staff has been a part of its Code of Conduct since the late 1990s, and this includes whether they are a member of the Freemasons.[17] It is important that declarations of relevant interests are made to ensure greater transparency.

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