What happens when a group of people challenge the clandestine power of the Freemasons in public? Peter Panatone investigates the Exodus Collective's run-in with the Freemasons of Bedfordshire.
Squall 16, Summer 1998, pp. 33-35.
As a Freemason judge, Lord Justice Millet was not pleased. Following a recommendation from the Home Affairs Select Committee last year, all Masonic members of the criminal justice system will have to come out of the closet. As one of the few prominent Masons already revealed, it's Millet's name you'll often see quoted in newspapers, defending the "civil liberties"of his fellow clandestines.
"You can't choose which judge will try your case, so what's the point," he argued in February this year.1 However, as members of the Luton-based Exodus Collective are all to well aware, his assertion was an audacious mislead of we, the jury.
Is it possible that Millet spoke unaware that his fellow judicial Mason, Sir Maurice Drake, stood down from a murder trial in 1996, when the defendant's legal team argued that Drake's Masonic membership might lead to bias in his decision making? Not only was this thought to be the first time a judge has stood down over Masonic affiliations - a fact that could not have escaped the attention of Lord Justice Millet - but Sir Maurice Drake also happens to sit with Millet on the Mason's own Commission of Appeals Court. Drake, like Millet, is one of the few high-profile Masons whose membership has been revealed publicly.
The murder trial in question involved Paul Taylor, a prominent member of Luton's Exodus Collective. As Squall readers may recall, Taylor was involved in an incident outside a Luton public house on a cold winter's night in 1996. After an aggressively drunken man was asked to leave the pub, a small scrap ensued outside the premises which Paul Taylor stepped in to break up. The man continued his threatening behaviour and was chased down the road with Taylor then returning to the pub. When the man was later found dead inside a council compound in a local park, he was deemed to have died from hypothermia, exacerbated by alcohol consumption and blood loss caused by an injury incurred whilst climbing into the compound. When Taylor heard about the discovery of the man's body, he went to the local police to tell them about the incident outside the pub. He was subsequently arrested and charged with murder.
Regular Squall readers will be aware that this was just one of many extraordinary charges brought against members of the Exodus Collective.2 Many of these incidents were included in a Channel Four documentary broadcast in 1996, which investigated a network of interlocking political and business interests implicated in attacks on the Collective.3 One of the malevolent interlocking interests making regular appearances throughout this incredible saga is that of Freemasonry.
The Exodus Collective were once told by a friendly policeman that the well-attended free raves they organise take serious chunks of profit out of Luton's pubs and night-clubs.4 There are an estimated 5,000 people in the pubs and clubs of Luton on weekends5, unless, that is, Exodus are holding one of their free raves which regularly attract in excess of 3,000 people. Exodus became aware that business interests in Luton would not be keen on the commercial challenge presented by the Collective's aspiration to operate a low-price entertainment venue. One such interest is Whitbread Plc, which have their headquarters in Luton and own many of the pubs in the town. Samuel Whitbread is Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire and chairman of the committee which selects justices of the peace for the region. He is also a masonically associated Knight of St John and shares an office in Luton with the Crown Prosecution Service.
Indeed, persistent efforts to get their proposal for a community centre considered by the council were constantly frustrated, despite support from the local community, academics and some councillors. "It seemed to me that Exodus on this occasion, and not for the first time, were being treated less fairly than a good many other applicants,"said Cllr David Franks, the leader of the Lib-Dem group, after a Luton Planning Committee meeting in 1995.3 The Labour leader of Luton Borough Council, Cllr Roy Davis, had proved particularly obstructive to the Exodus Collective throughout the years. He was majorly responsible for seeking injunctions against the parties organised by Exodus, the result of which was the deployment of riot police from five different constabularies, who made concerted efforts to stop Exodus' raves on four separate occasions. As chairman of the General Purposes Committee, he also rubber stamped council authorisation for the police to prosecute three members of the Exodus Collective under the Entertainments (Increased Penalties) Act 1990.
This private members legislation increased penalties against unlicensed rave organisers and was drafted by the then MP for Luton South, Sir Graham Bright, who served as personal private secretary (PPS) to Prime Minister John Major between 1990 and 1994. Before joining John Major's team, Bright had been PPS to the Earl of Caithness - a member of the Sinclair family whose long Masonic tradition stretches back to the knights templar and the crusades. In local Luton newspapers, Bright spoke out against the Exodus Collective on several occasions but when approached by Spectacle Productions, makers of the two Channel Four documentaries on Exodus, he refused to say whether he was a Freemason. His fellow Luton MP, John Carlisle - now spokesperson for the Tobacco Manufacturers Association - was also vociferous in his condemnation of the Collective, casting aspersions in the House of Commons about Exodus and drug dealing.6 He is known to have been a guest of honour at several Masonic functions in Luton although he too has refused to answer all enquiries about his Masonic affiliations.
Before being retired early, Chief Inspector Mick Brown of Bedfordshire Police spoke to journalist Tim Malyon: "I heard a number of Members of Parliament had written to the Chief Constable saying this should stop, that the police ought to get on the case... there were some Members of Parliament advocating drastic measures."
Council leader Roy Davis had also seen to it that a public meeting organised by the Exodus Collective at Luton Town Hall, following a raid on their farm in 1993, was cancelled at short notice. After rubber-stamping other co-ordinated injunctions against the Collective, Davis made an unsuccessful attempt to have Exodus' spokesperson Glenn Jenkins jailed for organising free raves in 1996. The council also asked the judge to widen the injunction against Jenkins, allowing him to be jailed if anyone organised raves in Luton; a move described in the local papers by the leader of Luton's Liberal Democrats, as "fascist". The judge, who dismissed the entire case, said the council's request was "so wide I can't see it".
When Exodus were given a copy of the 1983 Bedfordshire Masonic Yearbook (not publicly available), they discovered that Roy Davis' name was in it. In protest at his persistent obstruction, members of the Collective interrupted a full council meeting for a 15 minute demonstration and distributed leaflets exposing Davis' Masonic membership. It caused the Council leader considerable embarrassment and, at a meeting of the Labour group, Davis assured his fellow councillors that he had in fact left the Masons in 1983. He also told a local paper: "I have nothing to hide. I was a Freemason but resigned before I joined the council in 1983, but I owe it to the people I used to be with not to talk about the details. I got into it through the family. I took the view it could have been as a conflict of interest and decided the interests of the council must come first."8 The Labour group accepted his version of events and Davis was re-elected leader. However, a copy of the 1987 Bedfordshire Masonic Yearbook - once again not available to the public but recently seen by Squall - reveals that he was still a Mason five years after he claims to have left. Exodus' public demonstration and exposure of Davis' Masonic membership took place at Luton Town Hall on July 15th 1996 and triggered off a remarkable series of events. The following day, BBC Three Counties Radio interviewed a very uncomfortable Roy Davis and asked him several times about his Masonic connections. Live on air, Davis insisted that he'd been brought into the studio under false pretences: "I didn't come here to talk about that,"he complained several times.
Catalysed by his discomfort, BBC Three Counties Radio ran a Mason special on July 17th interviewing Christopher Knight, a prominent Mason and author of an influential book on Freemasonic mythology called the 'Hiram Key'. A can of worms was prised open in public. On the same day a "senior panel of judges"met to discuss Taylor's murder case and made an unusual decision that Exodus would only get to hear about the following month.
In August, Paul Taylor's legal team - who were preparing the defence for his murder trial due in March 1997 - were suddenly told that the trial had been brought forward to September 1996. Neither the defence nor the prosecution were ready for such a major trial at four weeks notice, and asked the pre-trial judge not to move the trial date forward. The defence also argued that the movement of the date meant that their preferred barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, would not be able to conduct the case. The pre-trial judge (Judge Rodwell) refused their submissions, saying that "a senior panel of judges"which met on July 17th, had decided that the trial-date should be moved forward to September and that Sir Maurice Drake - a senior High Court judge who was supposed to have retired in 1995 - would preside over the case.
The United Grand Lodge of England published a publicly available yearbook for the first time in 1996, listing some of its members who occupy official positions in its hierarchy. Sir Maurice Drake was included in the book as an officer in the elite Royal Arch division of Masonry. The instant Exodus discovered Drake's Masonic membership, the unusual manoeuvring of the trial date and the drafting in of Drake as judge began to make alarming sense. Taylor's legal team prepared a submission to Drake - which included an article from Squall - calling for him to stand down as judge over the potential for bias in the light of Exodus' publicly expressed disquiet over the malevolent influence of local Freemasonry. Drake accepted the submission, stood down and Taylor was subsequently acquitted of all charges by his judicial replacement. However, Masonic judges were to make another appearance in the saga. In 1997, the Department of Transport decided to sell the previously derelict Long Meadow Farm, which had been refurbished and stocked with animals by the Collective and occupied under licence by them since 1992. The property had originally been purchased by the DoT for an M1 widening scheme which had never materialised.
Rather than offer it to Exodus, however, the DoT announced the property would be sold via a secret bid auction. Keen to secure the premises for its continued use as a community farm, the Collective had the 19-acre property valued and put in a bid higher than the valuation. When, without further notice, Exodus were told to vacate the premises because their bid had not been successful, the Collective went to court to fight the eviction notice. The basis of their argument was that the nature of their four-year tenancy gave them legal entitlements to purchase the premises at a fair market price. Although they lost the case, a further hearing in the High Court before two judges ruled that they had grounds for appeal.
However, a further pre-appeal hearing held at the High Court on October 21st last year prevented the appeal from taking place. This hearing was presided over by three judges, the two most vocal of which were Sir John Balcombe and Lord Justice Millet. Unaware at the time that both these judges are senior Freemasons listed in the United Grand Lodge yearbook, Exodus' legal team did not make any submissions for them to stand down. Nevertheless, it is inconceivable that both these high profile Masons had not heard of the Exodus Collective through the precedential stand-down of fellow judicial Mason Sir Maurice Drake at the previous trial. As well as being a member of the United Grand Lodge's external relations committee, Sir John Balcombe is also a member of the powerful General Purposes Committee, responsible for United Grand Lodge policy. The case for potential bias in their decision making was clear and would surely have succeeded in forcing them to stand down had Exodus known. The United Grand Lodge informed the Home Affairs Select Committee that only two out of the 39 Appeal court judges in this country are Freemasons. Presuming this to be true, what are the chances that Exodus - the only known organisation in public battle with Freemasonry - would have both of them presiding over their case? During the proceedings, Lord Justice Millet showed complete disregard for the grounds of appeal when he said there was "never any prospect of the applicants establishing they were entitled to the protection of the statutory code". The judges refused Exodus the right to appeal and so paving the way for eviction.
One of the especially malicious incidents involving Freemasonry was the attempt by Dunstable Police and one councillor in particular to revoke the pub licence held by Betty Jenkins, mother of Exodus members Glenn, Richard and Elaine Jenkins.
Mrs Jenkins had taken over management of the Globe Public House in 1994. Not long after her arrival, a local resident, Charles Anderson, began making extravagant complaints about noise emanating from the pub. Although Anderson remained the sole complainant, Mrs Jenkins sought to allay his concerns by spending £3,000 on installing double glazing in the pub and sealing up the door nearest to where Anderson lived. However, Anderson's complaints continued, with references to the music in the pub as "jungle drums"and to the clientele as "low-life trash".
Although there were disco nights in the pub, Mrs Jenkins held them only on Friday and Saturday nights, instead of the four nights a week disco policy operated by the previous management of the pub. Every resident of the street on which the Globe is situated, except Anderson, signed a petition saying the pub was no problem in the area. In a multitude of witness testimonies presented later in court, almost the entire quota of local residents, including local businesses, testified that the Globe Public House had considerably improved in terms of noise and clientele-conduct since the arrival of Mrs Jenkins as manager.
This particularly vicious part of the saga really started smelling rotten when Bedfordshire Police - in response to just one complainant - put a team of intelligence officers in a flat across the road to gather evidence on the pub. These officers, including DC Creed - one of the main investigating officers involved in the murder charge against Paul Taylor, claim to have seen people on the street throwing bottles. These intelligence operations were organised by Inspector Nicholas Banfield of Dunstable Police, who began visiting the pub on several occasions to accuse Betty of serving alcoholic drink after hours. During one such visit it is alleged by several occupants of the pub, including two probation officers, that Banfield assaulted two people after they voiced objections over his attitude to Mrs Jenkins. The two victims, who included Betty's son Richard, then sued Banfield for assault. Banfield, in turn, sued them for the same charge. The assault charges against the two occupants of the pub were dismissed by the magistrate who said police had "acted beyond the execution of their duty". Banfield's trial for assault on the other hand never reached court, being defeated on a legal technicality before any evidence was heard.
Mrs Jenkins, who had worked in the pub business for over ten years, vigorously denied any allegations of impropriety and made a complaint about Inspector Banfield's "aggressive and obnoxious"behaviour to his Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Brian Minahane. She met Minahane the next day and was assured the matter would be discussed with Banfield. The next Mrs Jenkins heard about the matter was when Inspector Banfield came into the pub with 8-10 police officers. In the fracas which ensued, a 71 year-old man who drank in the pub was knocked unconscious by police. Inspector Banfield later told the court that the old man had walked into the outstretched arm of a police dog handler. The role of Freemasonry in this ugly story was most evidential in the activities of Cllr Peter Roberts, the ward councillor for the area in which the Globe public house is situated. Listed in the Bedfordshire Masonic Yearbook as a Freemason, Roberts represented the interests of the sole complainant, Charles Anderson, and admits to having meetings with Inspector Banfield about the case. At no point did he ever come and talk to Mrs Jenkins, despite the fact that she ran a business and lived in his ward. When Mrs Jenkins approached him to ask why he had been so instrumental in seeking the revocation of her licence without ever coming to speak to her, he could offer no explanation. Mrs Jenkins had also received a letter from Aldwych Housing Association, who manage Charles Anderson's flat, saying that they now intended to move Anderson because he was unsuitable to be housed near a pub. Weeks later Sir David Madel (Con MP Beds South West) wrote to Chief Superintendent Minahane just three days after Minahane had assumed position as divisional commander of Dunstable Police. Referring to a complaint from Charles Anderson and his wife, Madel wrote: "Dear Mr Minahane.... They [the Andersons] do describe what must be a very distressing situation for them, and I wonder if there is anything more that can be done?"
Why did Madel become involved weeks after Aldwych Housing Association had said they were going to move the Andersons anyway? And, as a constituency MP for Betty Jenkins, why did he never write to her? Masonic researchers say the request for succour from distress is a typical linguistic Masonic request, although Madel has refused to answer any questions about the case. Despite positive testimonies from probation officers, locals and three CID police officers who drank in the Globe Public House, Mrs Jenkins' pub licence was taken away, with total court costs of £13,000 awarded against her. She was obliged to close the pub immediately and make her staff redundant. A judicial review of the whole case is currently being sought.
The targeting of Betty Jenkins as a means of seeking revenge against the activities of her Exodus Collective sons is perhaps the most insidious of the operations described thus far. Prior to this case, Mrs Jenkins had no animosity towards the local police, despite their run-ins with her two sons. Indeed, her other son, Tony Jenkins, is in fact a police officer with the Bedfordshire Constabulary and was one of the three police officers who appeared to defend her right to run a pub.
Unbeknown to themselves, members of the Exodus Collective have grown up in an area considered to have a higher than average incidence of Masonic influence. In March of this year, Bedfordshire Fire Brigade Union bosses spoke out against the pernicious influence of Freemasonry within the fire service in the county. In a Luton On Sunday article headlined: 'Masons run fire brigade - claim', an anonymous source is quoted: "Serving members feel so strongly that pressure is being put on the union to rip up the equal opportunities policy on the grounds that it is already a sham as a result of widespread Masonic dealings. All our people are fed up to the back teeth with these Masons."Contacted by the newspaper, Bedfordshire's Fire Chief, Peter Holland, refused to say whether he was a mason.9
When the environment and business journal, ENDS Report ran an article on Freemasonic influence in the Environment Agency - Britain's largest quango - they were told by a number of anonymous but 'informed' sources that a large number of the Agency's Masonic staff had come from Bedfordshire and its surrounding counties.10 A (once again) anonymous source is quoted: "It is widely said throughout the Agency that Anglia is known to be an area where Freemasonry counts."According to people who worked at the Bedford headquarters of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP) - one of the government bodies which amalgamated to form the Environment Agency - Masonic lodge meetings were regularly advertised on HMIP's noticeboards. The ENDS Report investigation discovered that two of the Environment Agency's regional managers attend the same Huntingdon Masonic lodge (in the neighbouring county of Cambridgeshire) as the senior managers from the local water boards they are responsible for regulating. The ENDS Report were also told by four separate sources that at least one member of the Environment Agency's board is a Freemason in the Huntingdon lodge. Lord De Ramsey - who despite having little direct experience of environmental issues - was made head of the newly formed Environment Agency in 1996 and is paid £12,000 a year for working four days a month. A previous president of the powerful Country Landowners' Association, De Ramsey's rich land-owning interests are centred in Huntingdon.11
The nature of Freemasonic manipulation and retribution lies, like many a devil, obscured in convoluted detail; the currency of operation being the clever mastery of mundane procedures. Sometimes referred to as "the mafia of mediocrity", Freemasonry's clandestine and often malicious deployment of clever manipulation is highly corrosive to any notion of democracy and public accountability.
Starting up in 1992, as a group of friends with four speakers, no money and a desire to dance together, the Exodus Collective has evolved into a force for social justice that has rattled the hornets' nest in Bedfordshire. As the only known organisation in the country which is publicly and audaciously challenging Freemasons in both their locality and in the national media, the saga of the Exodus Collective is providing a unique insight into the sting of Freemasonry.
1. BBC News 17/2/98.
2. Squalls 8-15
3. 'Exodus from Babylon' Spectacle Prods for Channel Four Broadcast 11/8/98.
4. "Licensed premises were receiving a fair amount of loss of trade, loss of customers... Some licensees were starting to get into real financial trouble."Chief Inspector Mick Brown.New Statesman 24/6/94.
5. Police estimate. Luton News 9/10/98.
6. Hansard 1/4/93. Col 537-542.
7. News Statesman 24/6/94.
8. Luton on Sunday 5/5/96.
9. Luton on Sunday 29/3/98.
10. ENDS Report 270 July 1997.
11. 'Quangoes the Environment' Squall 13.
Boyz In The 'Hood - Peter Panatone reports on recent moves to get Masonic police to declare their allegiances - Squall 16, Summer 1998
Testimony Of A Top Ranking Freemason - A 33rd degree Mason breaks cover - Squall 16, Summer 1998