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Freemasons taking PR tips on boosting image.

A FREEMASONS' lodge has decided to employ its own public relations experts in an attempt to project a more open image of a group which has traditionally been shrouded in secrecy.

Leading masons at the Provincial Lodge of Northumberland, which has around 10,000 members, have received tips from Newcastle-based PR firm Gentle Persuasion on how to handle the media.

Freemasonry, which traces its origins to mediaeval times, adopted a policy of secrecy after the Second World War but has been trying to become more open in recent years.

Gordon Leigh, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Northumberland, said: ''We are not a secret or sinister organisation.

''We are happy to be open about what we do. The only thing we will not discuss is recognition signs such as the handshake.

''The sole purpose of these is for one mason to know he is talking to another mason.

''Freemasonry gives millions to charity and is an ethical movement. Members are banned from using their membership for personal gain or advancement. So why should we be singled out and seen as sinister?"

''We think it is about time we became pro-active. We don't see why we should have to be on the defensive.''
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 5, 1999
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