The Chief Executive of the Freemasons has admitted that there is a secret handshake, but anyone caught doing it outside the society would face ‘disciplinary action’.
Today, the Freemasons put a full page advertisement in a number of national newspapers today saying they should stop being ‘undeservedly stigmatised’ and saying that they are a victim of discrimination.
It came after The Guardian wrote an article claiming that there were two lodges set up in Westminster that MPs and journalists were secretly operating in.
Dr David Staples, the Deputy Grand Master of Ceremonies for the United Grand Lodge of England, told Metro.co.uk: ‘I think enough is enough and The Guardian article was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back.
‘The clear influence that they want people to believe is that in Westminster there are groups of MPs who are meeting up and discussing nefarious things, which is totally false.
‘There are no MPs and no journalists who are members in Westminster.’
He said that membership went underground in the second world war after the Nazis demanded membership information and sent as many as 200,000 Masons to the gas chambers.
Dr Staples admitted that there is a secret handshake, but it is ‘absolutely forbidden’ to use it outside of their masonic circles.
He said: ‘We have a handshake that we use in ceremonies, but there is a lodged disciplinary system if they use it outside of the organisation.
‘It is part of our history and traditions from when the Freemasons were created.
‘There are different handshakes based on the level of Mason you are at so there’s lots to remember.’
‘We do not tolerate people talking about it in anyway and in the 22 years that I have been a Mason nobody has given me the handshake outside of their Masonic lodges.’
He also admitted that he may ‘not have been on top form’ when he spoke to the BBC early this morning and avoided the question regarding the secret handshake.
When someone joins the organisation, Dr Staples said that each member goes through three ‘degrees’; Entering Apprentice, Fellow craft and Master Mason, with a different ceremony to upgrade each level.
You can apply online or be recommended by an existing member to be a Freemason, and women have their own lodges.
Dr Staples added: ‘I have been a member for 22 years since I joined at University and what I really enjoy about it is the breadth of people that you meet.
‘When I joined I was meeting people who were 40 or 50 years older and I learnt from their life experiences and we take people from all different walks of life, races and faiths.
‘What I am asking people to do is to come and talk to us and speak to people who are actually members of the organisation.’