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The criminal partnership of Inspector Meiklejohn, who, interestingly, was ‘Countryman’ in various coded messages which passed between the criminals, and William Kurr continued. Eventually Kurr teamed up with Harry Benson, a psychopathic confidence trickster who had scarred and crippled himself for life by setting himself on fire in his bed at Newgate Prison. One by one, Meiklejohn corrupted nearly all the junior officers in the Detective Department, and introduced several of his most senior masonic colleagues in the department to Benson and Kurr, and they too began to accept bribes for information and services rendered.
The enterprises of Kurr and Benson came to the attention of Superintendent Williamson after they had successfully swindled the Comtesse de Goncourt of £10,000. Williamson placed the enquiry in the hands of one of his most respected men, Chief Detective Inspector Nathaniel Druscovitch. But Druscovitch was one of those who had allowed himself to be tempted into the masonic-criminal circle, and was in the pay of the very men he was now detailed to investigate. Clarke, the sixty-year-old senior officer of the department; Palmer; and a masonic solicitor named Edward Frogatt were all drawn into the conspiracy. From there the corruption spread, its full extent lost in the tangled web of deceit woven by those involved. When the men were eventually brought to justice, the Detective Department lay in ruins and the following year, 1878, saw the complete reorganization of plain clothes investigation in the Metropolitan Police with the setting up of the modern Criminal Investigation Department.
By coincidence, it was exactly one hundred years after the arrest of Meiklejohn and his brethren in July 1877 that Scotland Yard detectives were again in the dock on serious corruption charges, when once again an Old Bailey jury heard of collusion between detectives and criminals who belonged to the same masonic Lodges.
But before going on to see how history repeated itself at the Yard (see Chapter 8 (#litres_trial_promo), below) and the startling events that affected the unique City of London Police, taking it into its darkest period, it is important to take a look at certain episodes in the years between the imprisonment of Scotland Yard Detective Inspector Meiklejohn (Freemason) in 1877 and the imprisonment of Scotland Yard Detective Chief Superintendent Moody (Freemason) in 1977.
In my book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution I demonstrate how the murders of five prostitutes in the East End of London in the late summer and autumn of 1888 were perpetrated not by one person working alone but by three men operating together for a specific purpose. Four of the five women - the man in charge of the operation had been deliberately misled about the identity of the fourth victim - shared, it was later revealed by one of the killers, a dangerous secret. They had to be silenced.
It was a period when England was perilously unstable. Many believed that revolution was just beyond the horizon. The prostitutes had learned first-hand of a secret the most potent forces in the British government had been striving to maintain for nearly four years. The Prime Minister himself believed that if the secret got out, the throne itself would be in peril. In an age of fierce anti-Catholic feeling, Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, grandson of Queen Victoria and Heir Presumptive to the throne, had illegally married and fathered a child by a Roman Catholic commoner.
In the early part of the operation, the wife of the Prince had been bundled off to a lunatic asylum by no less a personage than Sir William Gull, Physician in Ordinary to the Queen. All this, I hasten to add, without the Queen’s knowledge. When it was realized that others had to be silenced, Prime Minister Lord Salisbury turned again to Gull, never imagining that the good doctor, who was more than a little unstable, would go to the lengths he did. Gull was a Freemason. He decided that the penal oaths he had taken as a Freemason were more than mere symbolism. Gull concluded that the only safe way to silence the women was to eliminate them. And the proper way to execute them was as traitors to the nation, in which, according to one masonic writer of the period, ‘true Freemasonry is about to be more powerful than Royalty’. In other words, they would be mutilated according to the penalties laid out in masonic ritual. That his intention was carried to its conclusion is borne out by the ritualized and specifically masonic nature of the injuries inflicted on the Ripper victims. Contemporary descriptions of the mutilations contained in The Times and the secret Home Office file on the case, to which I had full access during my investigations, compare with the mimed murders in masonic rituals and with an illustration by Hogarth of an actual masonic murder, showing startling parallels.
The importance of the Ripper murders was not so much in the individual tragedies of the five women who died at the hands of a demented Freemason and his two toadies, although those were disturbing enough, but in the national tragedy of what followed: an official cover-up of immense proportions that confirmed that Freemasonry really was the unseen power behind the throne and government alike.
The man actively responsible for concealing the truth behind the Ripper murders was Sir Charles Warren, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and one of the country’s most eminent Freemasons. Warren impeded the investigation of the murders at every turn, caused endless confusion and delays, and personally destroyed the only clue the Ripper ever left. This was a scrawled chalk message on a wall inside a tenement block near the site of the fourth murder. Beneath the message was a blood-soaked piece of cloth which Jack the Ripper had recently cut from the apron of his latest victim. The message itself, according to a careful copy made by a conscientious PC who was at the scene early - which had been concealed in the Scotland Yard files on the case for nearly ninety years before I gained access to them - read:
The Juwes are
The Men That
The moment he was told of this, Warren, who had not previously ventured near the East End, rushed to the place before the message could be photographed and washed it away. This has never been explained. The truth was that Warren, who had been exalted to the Royal Arch in 1861, had realized that the writing on the wall was a masonic message.
Much of masonic ritual centres on murder. At the 3rd Degree, the victim is Hiram Abiff, mythical architect in charge of the building of Solomon’s temple. The ceremony involves the mimed murder of Hiram by three Apprentice Masons, and his subsequent resurrection. The three Apprentices are named Jubela, Jubelo and Jubelum - known collectively as the Juwes. In masonic lore, the Juwes are hunted down and executed, ‘by the breast being torn open and the heart and vitals taken out and thrown over the left shoulder’, which closely parallels the details of Jack the Ripper’s modus operandi.
Warren, a founder of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge of Masonic Research and by the time of the Ripper murders a Past Grand Sojourner of the Supreme Grand Chapter, knew only too well that the writing on the wall was telling the world, ‘The Freemasons are the men that will not be blamed for nothing.’
The City of London Police is unique. Descended from the Watch and Ward which manned the City’s walls in case of attack in the thirteenth century, the force belongs to the City and is financed largely by the City. It is controlled by a Commissioner who is equal in rank and standing with the Commissioner of the thirty-times-bigger Metropolitan Police. The Commissioner of the City of London Police is appointed by the Court of Common Council of the City Corporation and he and his force are overseen by a police committee of selected Common Councilmen (elected councillors) and Aldermen. The City of London is steeped in tradition, and it is possibly the ever-present awareness of ancient customs, of the perpetual intrusion by the past into the present, that explains why Freemasonry has been so prevalent among officers in the City of London Police.
Cecil Rolph Hewitt, criminologist, author, journalist and Vice-President of the Howard League for Penal Reform, joined the City of London Police in 1921. Writing as C. H. Rolph in the weekly news magazine Police Review in September 1981, he said:
I saw enough chicanery and favouritism fostering Freemasonry in the police service to satisfy me that it ought to be barred. It wasn’t so much that the Masons got actual preferment (though I’m sure some of them did); they believed they would, and the belief devalued their characters in a way that was as odd as it was disturbing.
Hewitt told me later, ‘I was instructing City of London Police recruits from 1931 to about 1940, holding during that time the dizzily rising ranks of Sub-Inspector, Inspector and Chief Inspector. We had a school room at Snow Hill police station, opposite Holborn Viaduct railway terminus. I had to teach them rudimentary criminal law, police practice, and, I suppose, some kind of social ethics - of the kind now greeted as innovatory in the Scarman Report. The recruits often seemed to believe that if in due course they could join a Lodge their careers would be assured. I sometimes found it difficult to disabuse them, and the result was that when their time came to study for promotion, which involves a lot of hard work and is specially hard, in my opinion, on the relatively unlettered types who usually join the police, they just didn’t work hard enough and they failed their exams time after time. These pre-conceived notions about the value of Freemasonry as a means to advancement had been inherited, as a rule, from parents or uncles, often policemen themselves.’
Hewitt left the City Police in 1946 and joined the New Statesman as a staff writer the following year. He was the editor of the Society of Authors’ journal The Author for four years and between 1947 and 1978 produced nineteen books, mostly on the police, law and crime. The evidence of one of his contemporaries in the City of London Police is particularly valuable in building up a picture of the degree to which the high incidence of Masonry within the force influenced it between the 1920s and the late 1950s. Gilbert Stone, who joined the force in 1927, was a much-respected officer. Although a non-Mason, he is not anti-Mason, and gave a considered and self-evidently balanced account.
‘I retired from the City Police early in 1959 as a 1st Class Superintendent,’∗ he told me. ‘I served under two Commissioners, Sir Hugh Turnbull and Sir Arthur Young, and I am sure that neither of them were Masons. The Assistant This rank has since been upgraded to Chief Superintendent.
Commissioner in my early days was, I am pretty certain, a Mason. Quite a number of senior officers were Masons and some were not.
I would imagine that there was a greater proportion of CID officers of all ranks in Masonry than uniformed officers, and I got the general impression without any evidence to substantiate it that Masons had a better chance of getting into the CID than non-Masons. I must say, however, that in my early days or years in the force in the late twenties I did for about a year or so work in the CID at my Divisional Station, doing clerical and admin work, and on several occasions I was invited by several CID men, including a Detective Inspector and several Detective Sergeants who were Masons, to enter the CID, which invitations I always declined. I mention this to show that the CID was not the exclusive preserve of the Masons, but I must add that I often wondered whether, if I did accept the invitations and enter the CID, I would then have been invited to become a Mason.
‘A lot of constables were in Masonry, although I would not like to hazard a guess on what proportion. Some belonged when they joined the force. I think it reasonable to assume that quite a lot of them were, or became, Masons because it would confer some advantages, whether by giving them an easier “ride” in the force, or because they thought it would help them with promotion, or perhaps both.
‘There is only one case, as far as I can recollect, where a Mason did reap an advantage by being one. He was a man who occasionally got drunk and in that condition often turned violent and assaulted people, including senior officers. On more than one occasion his conduct resulted in a disciplinary charge against him, and on each occasion he virtually got away with it. A small fine, 19s 6d if I remember aright, was imposed and that was that. Often he was not charged. The general view of his colleagues, which included me, was that had he not been a Mason he would have been sacked long ago.
‘On one occasion a colleague invited me to think about becoming a Mason and said that if I was interested he would be pleased to propose me, but, as you can gather, I was not interested, and no pressure was brought to bear on me.
‘I personally was not affected, so far as I am aware, by not being a Mason. I met and served with some Masons who were delightful colleagues and real gentlemen. I met some Masons who were quite the opposite. And that applies equally to colleagues who were not Masons.’
Ex-Superintendent Stone introduced me to Albert Treves, ‘an old colleague and friend who retired as an Inspector in the City, who was a very active Mason and was also a very charming and gentlemanly person’.
Treves told me that during his fifty years’ service in and with the police, the subject of Masonry was seldom if ever mentioned to him, and to his knowledge had no influence in any way. His impression was that it was a private matter that concerned only members of the Brotherhood.
I have spoken to nearly seventy former and currently serving officers of the City force, about a third of them Masons. There can be no doubt that whatever part Freemasonry played in the distant past, by the late 1960s it was very hard for non-Masons to obtain promotion above Superintendent in the uniformed branch, and above Sergeant in the CID - even under the non-masonic Commissioner Sir Arthur Young. A masonic sub-structure had grown up, which enabled Freemasons in every department and every division to come together in secret and influence decisions in the force to a remarkable degree. But more of that later.
David Gillespie (a pseudonym) joined Essex Police in 1937 as a PC and retired as Acting Detective Chief Inspector of the same force in 1963. According to several independent statements I have received from men in this force, it has been dominated by Freemasons for generations.
‘The application form didn’t list Freemasonry under Special Qualifications,’ Gillespie told me, ‘but in fact from Inspector up to and including Assistant Chief Constable, four out of every five were practising Freemasons, all promoted by one man.’
During his career, Gillespie served at Clacton-on-Sea and the adjoining area around Holland-on-Sea, in the Staff Division CID, at Tilbury Docks, Braintree, and Rochford near Southend-on-Sea. His penultimate job was a £30,000 smuggling run, and he rounded off his career with a successful investigation into murder on the high seas.
The Chief Constable of Essex for much of Gillespie’s service was Sir Francis Richard Jonathan Peel, who died in 1979. A direct descendant of Sir Robert Peel, he is remembered in the force as a remote figure who would simply rubber-stamp the decisions of his most senior men. Gillespie liked Peel and reveres his memory, but says that ‘he was so intent on creating a vast gulf betwixt his ivory tower and the untouchables that he left promotion to one man’. That man, Assistant Chief Constable John Crockford, was a Freemason.
‘Crockford ran the promotion field for twenty years until he retired about 1953. He was a likeable man in many ways who conferred many kindnesses, although many men in the force hated him. Despite his unchallenged power in the service, he saw himself primarily as a Freemason, and one of extremely high rank.
‘Of course, not all promotions of Freemasons in my force were disreputable, but many were. The most awful in my time were Walter Stephen Pope, a ridiculous little squirt, to Super, and that of James Peters. Words fail me. They were derided even by their own kidney.
‘Both these men were Masons. By police standards Pope was a little man with an inverted inferiority complex, possibly for that reason. He had a high IQ in my opinion, but he was just a police clerk who climbed. He never to my knowledge caught a crook, never saw a blow struck in anger, and never looked in at Tilbury Docks on the night of the sainted Patrick when we were struggling with the Micks and the Molls outside the Presbytery or at the Sign of the Anchor Inn.
‘Pope had a hectoring voice and a pompous manner, which in all charity he probably couldn’t help. He was a ridiculous figure who upset the troops in every branch he entered. I had him, for my sins, in four divisions. His leadership, of how to get the best out of his men, was pathetic. I sometimes wondered if he were quite sane. Now and then men approached me for a written application in extremis to get them away from him. I complied. Such reports fetched up on ACC Crockford’s desk and proved successful. None of this prevented them making Pope a Divisional Superintendent.
‘But the case of James Peters is if anything worse, if such were possible. Peters was an amiable half-wit. He was simply one of nature’s dunderheads, a twit in any company who made one cringe. And he was a congenital liar. But he had become a Freemason at twenty-one and never missed a Lodge meeting. When he was promoted to station clerk, the resultant shock waves startled even the serried ranks of the Magic Circle, which is saying something. When the promotion was published, a certain high-ranker, another Freemason, threw the relevant Force Order B across the room in a fury. He knew Peters.
‘Later, on our sergeants’ training course, he confided in me that during a heart-to-heart talk, Crockford had told him his future was assured. It was. His rate of promotion after that was astonishing, and he retired at a rank very very few policemen achieve.’
Detective Superintendent David Thomas, former head of Monmouthshire CID, devoted four pages of his memoirs, Seek Out The Guilty, to an examination of Freemasonry in the police. Before this, criticism of alleged masonic influence in the police forces of Britain had usually come from the lower ranks. Such men as did raise the question were almost invariably dismissed by their masonic colleagues as embittered failures who used Freemasonry as a scapegoat. This was not wholly unfair. Freemasons, like Communists, Jews, Gipsies and Negroes, have frequently been used as scapegoats by those simplistic souls who like to believe all society’s ills have one source: a conspiracy of aliens and subversives dedicated to the overturning of the status quo. Hitler spoke of falling into a ‘nest of Freemasons’, and seems to have loathed them as much as he did the Jews - certainly he persecuted them as ruthlessly. Mussolini, too, hated Freemasons and during his dictatorship many were executed. On a more moderate level, the belief that no one is promoted in the police unless he is a Freemason is frequently held by non-masonic officers who would be unsuitable for promotion anyway. Unable to accept their own failings, they all too easily subscribe to the conspiracy theory and latch on to Freemasonry as a convenient scapegoat.
On the other hand, the belief that Freemasonry often exerts an improper influence is also held by many police officers who are Freemasons - because there is no doubt at all that many Freemasons have been promoted by other Freemasons for no other reason than that they are members of the same secret Brotherhood. The blanket denial that this happens, or that it can happen, issued by the United Grand Lodge, is untruthful.
The significance of David Thomas’s words was that they came from a man of unimpeachable integrity and of high standing in the police and the community. Here was no hot-headed PC, freshly rejected for promotion, flinging wild allegations round the ‘nick’ canteen, but a successful senior officer in retirement making a reasoned statement and calling for a Royal Commission to investigate a situation he regarded as sinister and dangerous.
During my thirty-two years’ police service I saw a great deal of this secret society in action, not only in my own force but also in the many others I visited as honorary secretary of the detective conferences of No 8 Police District, which comprises the whole of Wales, Monmouthshire and Herefordshire.* (#litres_trial_promo) Sometimes my visits took me to other areas, but wherever I went the story was the same.
‘Are you on the Square?’ or ‘Are you on the Level?’ are all naive enquiries as to whether or not one is a Mason.
Thomas thought that of the total number of policemen in 1969, probably only a small percentage were Freemasons. ‘But that small percentage forms an important and all-powerful group, the majority of whom are senior officers of the rank of Inspector, or above. Their influence on the service is incalculable.’
He assured readers that Masonry often did affect promotion, and that many sergeants and PCs became Masons for this reason. In this way, the system became self-perpetuating. Without implying that Masons will ensure the promotion of their brethren in the service, Thomas was certain that when two men of equal ability came before a promotion board, the dice would be loaded in favour of the Mason because of the masonic composition of many boards.
The official response to Thomas’s call for a Royal Commission was predictable: like the United Grand Lodge, successive governments have adopted an ignore-it-and-it-will-go-away policy on calls to investigate any state of affairs in which Freemasonry is alleged to be playing a questionable role. An unnamed writer in the Sunday Telegraph said this: I can confirm that many detectives believe Freemasons exercise an insidious secret influence inside Scotland Yard. But it seems now the suggestion has come into the open the lie may be given to this well-entrenched belief.’
A spokesman for the Police Federation, the police ‘trade union’ representing all ranks up to Inspector, was quoted as saying that the Federation had never received a complaint from anyone losing promotion or being victimized for not being a Freemason. This was untrue. I have seen copies of statements of just such a nature submitted to the Federation both before and after the date of the Federation’s pronouncement. Indeed, only eleven months before the publication of Thomas’s book, a Northampton police Sergeant submitted a three-page typed report, every page signed by himself at the bottom and every surname typed in capitals as if it were a formal witness’s statement. In it he complained of two incidents:
In March of last year I was told in no uncertain terms by Det Insp Brian JENKINS [pseudonym] that if I did not join the lodge he would personally see to it that I was never promoted above my present rank … On December 24 last, just before the Christmas Party, I was called in to see Chief Insp Howard FIELD [pseudonym]. He said that life could be made very uncomfortable for officers who tried to buck the system. I asked him what he meant. He said, ‘You are not on the square, are you. I won’t say any more than that.’
The complainant told me the Federation never replied. He said, ‘Life became intolerable after that. They treated me like a leper. I was either ignored completely by most of them or they kept picking arguments with me. Complaint after complaint was made against me. It was ridiculous. I stuck it for about a year but then I just got out.’
Now a Superintendent in the North East of England, my informant achieved very rapid promotion without joining the Brotherhood.
The Federation spokesman who told the Sunday Telegraph that complaints of this nature had never been received, went on to say: ‘Under modern promotion procedures it is difficult to see how it could happen. We have national promotion exams. In London, promotion up to station sergeant is decided by exams. Boards decide other promotions. It would be gross exaggeration to say Freemason members had any undue influence.’
What the spokesman did not point out was that passing a promotion examination did not mean automatic promotion. There are many PCs and Sergeants in the country who have qualified as Inspectors, but because of a dearth of vacancies at the higher ranks, they remain at the bottom. In the 26,000-strong Metropolitan Police there is a much greater chance of early promotion, as there is for an officer prepared to move from force to force; but in country forces it is often a case of dead men’s shoes. And even when a vacancy arises, applicants go before promotion boards. In suggesting that examinations eliminated favouritism the Federation was therefore being less than truthful, and the reason is perhaps not hard to find. Until very recently the majority of regional representatives of the Police Federation were Freemasons. Even today, a large proportion of its civilian staff are ardent members of the Brotherhood.
There are two other allegations which have been made so frequently, and by such well-respected officers, two Assistant Chief Constables (one a Mason) included, that they should be mentioned, although it must be said that I have yet to see undeniable evidence. One claim is that masonic officers taking exams will make some kind of mark on their paper to indicate their affiliation to the Brotherhood. The most common, it is alleged, is the age-old masonic code of writing a capital ‘A’ in the form of the Brotherhood’s Square and Compasses symbol, thus:
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