LONDON: Two Freemasons lodges set up for MPs and political journalists are continuing to operate secretly at the UK Parliament, a media report said.
New Welcome Lodge, which recruits MPs, peers and parliamentary staff, and Gallery Lodge, established for members of the political press corps known as the lobby, both remain active, the Guardian report quoted Freemasonry records as saying.
A third lodge called the Alfred Robbins Lodge, which was also set up for journalists, also continues to meet regularly in London.
The identities of the members of these three lodges remain unknown outside the world of Freemasonry, however, and so discreet are the members of Gallery Lodge that few journalists working in the lobby appear to be aware of its existence.
One current member of New Welcome told the Guardian that its members keep Gallery Lodge masons at arm's length, on the grounds that while they are fellow members of the brotherhood, they are still journalists, and "they wouldn't want journalists listening to their conversations".
At Westminster, MPs and peers are not obliged to declare their membership of the Freemasons, the Guardian reported.
Political journalists also do not declare their membership of the Freemasons on the register of journalists' interests, which is maintained by parliament.
The three lodges each meet four times a year at Freemasons' Hall, the UGLE's headquarters in Covent Garden, London.
According to the Guardian, former members of Gallery Lodge have included former journalists at the Times, the Daily Express and the Scotsman.
Freemasonry is a secular movement, although new members are expected to acknowledge a belief in a God-like superior being. It models itself upon the fraternities of medieval stonemasons who would use secret words and symbols to recognise each others' legitimacy.