Former clerk to Petworth Town Council, Jean Huggett has jumped to the defence of the Freemasons after an article submitted by the Petworth Lodge for publication in the town’s journal was rejected and later branded ‘sexist and inappropriate’.
Mrs Huggett said: “My late husband was a long serving Freemason. In his later years, when he was unwell and severely incapacitated, they were very good to him and the support continues for me after his death, as it does for all Masonic widows. But they don’t just look after their own, Freemasons are ready and willing to help anyone in need.”
In the meantime, the town council’s new clerk Melanie Kite has responded officially after the Master of the Lodge Simon Hamilton wrote to each councillor asking why there had been discrimination against them by Petworth Pages and its editor Julie Aguilar, employee of the town council.
“I understand the article, ‘An Introduction to Freemasonry’, was not thought to be acceptable as it did not meet either the editorial style or the limited word count,” Melanie told Mr Hamilton.
“The usual process for having an article published is for people to send in a general outline of the article with all the relevant facts, which they wish to have published.
“The Editor will, if she considers using the content, draft the article herself in a format that fits in with the upcoming quarterly issue.”
She said the Petworth Pages editor and Barry Walsh, a representative of Petworth Freemasons, had exchanged a number of emails about the article during which Mr Aguilar explained she rarely accepted articles ‘as submitted’.
She had been prepared to give a further explanation when Mr Walsh phoned her but, said Melanie: “He did not give her the chance before putting the telephone down on her.”
She told Mr Hamilton: “Ms Aguilar has verbally complained about Mr Walsh’s aggressive pursuit of this matter, through telephone calls and emails, as harassment and bullying. As her employer, the town council takes this very seriously. His attitude certainly contravenes the core values of ‘kindness, honesty, fairness and tolerance’ which the organisation is meant to adhere to.”
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