A PETITION to the Scottish Parliament calling on decision makers including judges & tribunal members to declare their membership of all organisations including Freemasonry has today reached over 800 public signatures from Scotland and around the globe including key support from Scots & international legal academics.
Petition PE01491 filed by transparency campaigner Thomas Minogue of Dunfermline, Fife “calls on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to amend the law or codes of practice to make it compulsory for decision makers such as sheriffs, judges, and juries at their courts, arbiters, and all panel members of tribunals that are convened and held in Scotland and governed by devolved legislation, custom and practice, to declare if they have ever been members of organisations, such as the Masons, that demand fraternal preference to their brethren over non-brethren, or organisations which have constitutions or aims that are biased against any particular sect, religion or race.”
However, in a move sure to gather support and ignite further debate, Mr Minogue now plans to include in his petition the proposals put forward by the late Paul McBride QC to require full and substantive declarations by jurors, more details of which can be viewed in an earlier report along with an interview with Paul McBride on the subject, HERE
Speaking to Scottish Law Reporter today, Mr Minogue said : “I am returning to unfinished business and have extended the terms of the petition to include jurors as this group came under scrutiny when Paul McBride QC, criticised the jury in the Neil Lennon assault trial. If that jury was composed predominately of members of the Orange Order they couldn’t have come up with a more bizarre verdict.”
Mr Minogue has campaigned on similar issues in the past, and notably was responsible for bringing “the Spec” (Speculative Society) into the arena of public debate after researching allegations of the group’s influence in the judiciary (over two-thirds of Scots Law Lords were members at that time).
Mr Minogue added in the light of changing attitudes on transparency and a greater need for openness in public life, he believes his current petition carries significant weight and should be considered afresh after an earlier petition on a similar theme was suspiciously dismissed by a previous Scottish Executive even before responses from the then Justice Minister Jim Wallace on judges membership of freemasonry and the Speculative Society of Edinburgh were considered in public by msps.
In relation to the dismissal of the earlier petition, Mr Minogue stated Jim Wallace “said my petition was unique and I was the only person he knew of with concerns in this regard”.
Responding to the ex Justice Minister’s claims some years ago, Mr Minogue commented : “He obviously didn’t know Dr Samuel Johnson said this on the subject: “Where secrecy or mystery begins, vice or roguery is not far off”. Mr Minogue added “This time the numbers supporting the petition show statements such as Mr Wallace’s to be nonsense”
The petition further proposes the publication of declarations by decision makers : “That a register of such membership is held by the various bodies that supervise such judicial and quasi-judicial tribunals and that access to these registers is given on demand to the defendant, litigant, or plaintiff wishing to exercise their rights to a fair hearing in accordance with Article 6 of the ECHR.”
As of today, there are 51 days left for the public to sign the petition on the Scottish Parliament’s website here : Petition PE01491