A BARRISTER claims his application to become a
judge has been turned down because he is not a freemason.
Roger Everest says he was told 30 years ago that
he would never get on in the legal profession after turning down an
invitation to join the Dinas Llandaff lodge of the Freemasons in
Last week the 64-year-old was informed by the
director of judicial appointments at the Department for
Constitutional Affairs that he was not being appointed a circuit
Earlier this year Mr Everest, who practises from
chambers at Pontyclun near Cardiff, had a claim that his career had
been blighted by his non-membership of the freemasons rejected by
the European Court of Human Rights.
Yesterday he said, "The judiciary in South Wales
is a closed shop which I believe excludes ethnic minorities, women
and men who are not part of a masonic network.
"After over 30 years as a practising barrister on
the Wales and Chester circuit with hundreds of satisfied clients -
not one of whom has ever made a complaint against me - I am furious
never to have been offered the opportunity to sit as a judge.
"Through The Western Mail I call on the Labour
Government to appoint an eminent and impartial privy councillor to
investigate the many miscarriages of justice in South Wales -
especially the wrongful convictions that followed the murders of
Lynette White and Mr and Mrs Tooze - and to publish a register
naming judges who have ever been masons. Judges should be appointed
on their merit as lawyers, independent of their standing among
Mr Everest said he planned to meet his MP Dr Kim
Howells to discuss the matter.
He added, "It is my firm belief that there is a
masonic connection with the miscarriages of justice that have
occurred in South Wales."
In February 1998, the Home Office committed
itself to establishing public registers of Freemasons in the
judiciary and the police.
In a response to a report written by the Home
Affairs select committee, the Home Office stated, "The Home
Secretary proposes to make a formal request to the United Grand
Lodge (the governing body of freemasonry in England and Wales) that
they provide on a regional basis consistent with the regional
structure of the Lodges, the names and identifying occupations and
other necessary details of those who are or who become freemasons in
the specified professions and occupations.
"If the United Grand Lodge is unwilling or unable
to comply with this request, or to comply only partially (for
example because it does not itself have the data in the required
form) the government will initially make arrangements for registers
to be opened for all the specified professions and occupations. All
would be invited to register. Although at this stage a failure to
return information would not of itself be a breach of conditions of
employment, any nil returns would be shown as such.
"The government will consult on where the
registers should be available but in any event it believes that they
should be publicly available.
"The government will address the need for
legislation having regard to the extent of compliance with voluntary
registers, once established."
John Hamill, director of communications for the
United Grand Lodge said, "The Home Office did not pursue the idea of
registers because of the incorporation of human rights legislation
into UK law. Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights
forbids discrimination against minorities.
"When a straw poll was done of judges several
years ago, less than five per cent were freemasons and none of those
responsible for judicial appointments were."