A BID to discover how many Surrey Heath councillors are Freemasons, following a corruption inquiry, has unearthed just two.
The pair who have owned up to be being members of the secret society are Tory member Paul Illnicki and Labour's David Musgrave. They volunteered the information after a call from the council's standards committee for councillors to register their membership of "The Brotherhood".
The move was sparked by a recent independent probe into allegations of irregularities or corruption in the council's planning department. In a report the committee was told that Baker Tilly, the council's external auditor, had found "no evidence" to support the allegations. Baker Tilly also told the committee there had "not been sufficient evidence" to substantiate corruption claims against Coun Gordon Parris.
It was also satisfied that he had declared all personal and prejudicial interests where appropriate.
But in an effort to convince the public that everything is above board, the committee decided that members should be encouraged to register membership of the Freemasons.
Council solicitor Richard Ivory, who is responsible for the register, said that under current legislation councillors could not be compelled to own up.
"I can't force them to register," he said. "But I believe that members should be up front, open and honest." Mr Ivory added that Coun. Gordon Parris had told him he is no longer a Freemason. Coun Parris, a supermarket manager, is on holiday in Florida this week and unavailable for comment.