A BACKBENCH committee
yesterday went against the Scottish Executive, telling it judges
should be forced to declare whether they are freemasons. LINK
The Justice 2
Committee rejected the opinion of Justice Minister Jim Wallace
that the judiciary should not be obliged to reveal masonic links.
said the judiciary should
be brought into line with other public office holders
who will have to declare membership of clubs under
agreed to write to Mr Wallace
asking him to back their proposals to promote openness
would have to do a U-turn to accept the argument after
insisting in February that there was "no need
for any steps at this time".
The committee members
reached their decision after discussing a petition on the issue
from Thomas Minogue. LINK
Minogue, 56, the managing director of
Kinghorn Engineering in Dunfermline,
expressed concern that masonic membership
could affect the impartiality of the judiciary.
for South of Scotland, Christine Grahame
argued MSPs and their assistants should
declare their interests.
MSP for Dunfermline West, Scott Barrie
argued judges should declare membership
of all organisations, whether secretive or not.
He said: "The issue is not just about freemasons
but about other organisations that might not be on a secretive basis."
convener and Labour MSP
for Glasgow Kelvin, Pauline McNeill,
said the "perception of the public" was
the important issue.
after the meeting in Edinburgh, Mr Minogue
said he was reasonably satisfied. The
position adopted by the committee was broadly similar
to that proposed by the Scottish Consumer
in a letter to the committee.
rights watchdog urged the committee to consider the
consultation being undertaken by the Executive and
the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.
The consultation will lead to new codes of conduct
for public bodies and councillors under the Ethical
Standards in Public Life (Scotland) Act 2000.
could require public office holders to register and
describe significant non-financial interests, including
membership of clubs.