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Officials 'avoided censure over Titanic because of Freemason links'

By Lisa Smyth

Official figures may have escaped blame for the sinking of Titanic because of their links to Freemasonary, it has emerged.

The publication of a secret archive of Freemasons by online genealogy service Ancestry, has revealed the scale of Masonic involvement across the highest echelons of British society at the time of the 1912 tragedy.

The secret archive of Freemasons' members between 1733 and 1923 confirms that not only the judge who oversaw the British Wreck Commissioner's inquiry into the disaster and leading investigators, but also even some of those who escaped censure were Freemasons. A US Senate inquiry into the sinking savaged the White Star Line and singled out the British Board of Trade for blame for lax regulations which allowed the Belfast-built ship to sail with just a small number of lifeboats on board.

However, the UK investigation overseen by Lord Mersey avoided blaming the Board of Trade.

It has now emerged that Lord Mersey was a Freemason, initiated in 1881 at the Northern Bar Lodge in London. So, too, was the President of the Board of Trade, Sydney Buxton.

The names of at least two of the inquiry's five expert assessors - Prof John Harvard Biles, a specialist in naval architecture, and Edward Chaston, the senior engineer assessor - can also be found in the Masonic archive.

Meanwhile, Lord Pirrie, who was not only chairman of the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast which built the Titanic but, crucially, also one of the directors of White Star's parent company, also appears to have been a Freemason.

The British inquiry was headed by the Board of Trade who had approved the ship, and some believed it had little interest in finding itself or White Star negligent.

It concluded that Titanic's skipper Captain Smith had done "only that which other skilled men would have done in the same position" and neither White Star nor its parent company, the International Mercantile Marine Company (IMM) was found negligent.

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