Brink’s-Mat mastermind ‘kicked out of Freemasons for not paying membership fee’
The mastermind behind the laundering of millions from Britain’s biggest bullion robbery was expelled from the Freemasons for failing to pay a £10 increase in membership fees.
Kenneth Noye, who attempted to cultivate friends among police officers who were Masons to try to protect himself from prosecution, repeatedly failed to pay his lodge’s subscriptions.
Noye had joined the Freemasons Hammersmith Lodge in the hope of forging influential links that might prove useful during his criminal activities as a fence for stolen property.
Research has now revealed that his financial dealings with the Masons worsened only after he was arrested for his part in the 1983 Brink’s-Mat robbery, which saw £26 million of gold bullion, diamond and cash taken by armed robbers from a Heathrow warehouse.
By this point, Noye, whose activities have been dramatised in the BBC series The Gold, had booked 20 places at one of the Hammersmith Lodge’s Ladies Festivals, the dinner dance parties where he liked to show off to friends and fellow Masons.
But after he was remanded in custody in 1985 for conspiracy to handle stolen goods, Noye was unable to make good on the booking and his fellow Masons had to cover the substantial cost of the tickets.
Noye’s messy financial relations with the Freemasons were unearthed by Mike Neville, a retired Scotland Yard detective chief inspector.
Mr Neville, himself a Freemason, examined Noye’s membership as part of Crime and The Craft, his book about Masonic involvement in criminality.
The Gold, which concludes on BBC One on Sunday, includes several scenes of Noye cultivating the friendship of a corrupt senior Kent police officer at lodge events, including a Ladies Festival.
Mr Neville said that although Noye’s attendance at lodge meetings was irregular, “he did however like to attend Ladies Festivals – large dinner dance parties where he could show off to friends and be ‘flash’”.
He added: “Unfortunately, the lodge Ladies Night fell after Noye was put in prison on remand. The 20 places booked by him had to be paid for – the other members had to cover the cost.”
Noye was eventually expelled from the Hammersmith Lodge in October 1987 for “Rule 148” – non-payment of his annual subscription.
Freemason anger over BBC drama’s portrayal
However, there was anger among Freemasons at what they said is The Gold’s “exaggerated and sensationalist” portrayal of Noye’s influence in the organisation.
In particular, they objected to the implication that Noye was assisted by fellow Masons in initially evading justice.
One senior Mason told The Telegraph: “A lot of members are furious about The Gold’s portrayal of the Masons. It’s silly nonsense using overly artistic licence.”
The United Grand Lodge of England, the governing lodge for Masons, points out that the Metropolitan Police task force which brought Noye to justice and saw him sentenced to 14 years included a number of Freemasons.
DCS Brian Boyce, who was the head of the task force, is portrayed by Hugh Bonneville in the BBC One drama.
“Despite Noye being ‘on the square’, Masonic police officers from the highest ranks to the lowest played their parts in bringing Noye to justice,” said Mr Neville.
His examination of the Hammersmith Lodge No 2090’s minutes found that Noye attended 10 out of 21 meetings held between January 1980 and January 1984 at the Star & Garter Hotel in Brentford, west london.
Mr Neville pointed out that the lodge had only one police member at the time, a sergeant in the British Transport Police, and maintained that Noye’s influence on the forces of law and order would have been negligible.
Noye, who had earlier been acquitted of murdering undercover officer DC John Fordham during a surveillance operation on his Kent mansion during the Brink’s-Mat investigation, was eventually released in 1994 after serving eight years of his 14-year sentence for handling the stolen gold.
But in 1996, he fled to Spain after stabbing to death Stephen Cameron in a road rage attack at the Swanley M25/M20 interchange in Kent.
On being extradited three years later, Noye greeted DCI Tony Brightwell, the Flying Squad officer leading the hunt for him, with the handshake of a fellow Mason – once again in the hope of garnering favour.
Mr Neville pointed out it did him no good, saying: “DCI Brightwell was a man of integrity. He knew that Mason or not, Noye was a vicious criminal.”
Noye served 20 years for Cameron’s murder, before being released from prison in 2019.