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Friday, 3 November, 2000, 13:36 GMT
Sheriff rebuffs masons question
Freemasons graphic
The freemasons are a secret society
A lady sheriff has refused to tell a Fife businessman accused of theft if she is a freemason or in any way connected with the secret society.

Thomas Minogue has asked whichever sheriff is appointed to hear his case to reveal if they are a freemason.

During a previous hearing, Mr Minogue's lawyer Derek Ogg said his client might not receive a fair trial because some of the police officers due to give evidence were wearing masonic symbols when they raided his premises.

The case was continued until Friday to allow the Crown to make a submission.


The judicial oath which I have taken to do right without fear or favour or ill will should be accorded the greatest possible weight

Sheriff Isabella McColl
Fiscal Richard Stott said: "Having carefully considered the position the Crown Office does not consider it appropriate at this stage to make any submission in this matter but I reserve the Crown's position to argue the matter should it be taken forward to any higher court."

In a judgement at Dunfermline Sheriff Court, Sheriff Isabella McColl said she had nothing to disclose which would give rise to concern "regarding my impartiality in this case".

"Mr Ogg stated that it is the accused's perception that freemasonry and its influence is present in the construction industry in Fife, is prevalent in the police and is present if not prevalent in the legal profession and judiciary in Scotland," she said.

"He submitted that in order to satisfy an objective test of impartiality the accused in this case is entitled to ask me, as trial judge, and I am required to answer, whether I am a freemason."

Thomas Monogue
Thomas Monogue denies the theft charge
"Whether there are sufficient guarantees to exclude any legitimate doubt as to my impartiality as trial judge I take the view that firstly, the judicial oath which I have taken to do right without fear or favour or ill will should be accorded the greatest possible weight."

She then went on to say she was not prepared to disclose if she were a member of any organisation and gave Mr Ogg leave to appeal her decision to a higher court.

After a brief adjournment Mr Ogg said Mr Minogue accepted her judgement. Trial was fixed for March 9 next year.

Mr Minogue, of Kingdom Engineering (Fife) Ltd, is charged with the theft of bridge parts.

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See also:

19 Oct 00 | Scotland
Court hears freemasons challenge
12 Oct 00 | Scotland
Call to uncover freemason judges
20 Nov 99 | UK
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04 Aug 99 | UK
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