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Masonic freedom;Diary

Members of the ruling council at the University of London have struck an important blow for the principle of academic freedom: the freedom to say whether they are Freemasons or to say nothing at all if that's what they feel like.

The council was recently asked to vote on a voluntary system of declaration, as favoured by Britain's judges - another group known to like their autonomy.

But after two recounts and with numerous abstentions the council discovered it couldn't make its mind up and the poll was split 12:12.

So it was left to the casting vote of a senior judge, Master of the Rolls, Lord Woolf, to vote in favour of this terrible obligation.

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