Where Freemasonry does play a big part
This case was also brought to my notice independently by one of the main participants. The outline that follows is based on the documents of the case; interviews with the main participant; the former Lord Justice of Appeal who made behind-the-scenes enquiries after first hearing of the case, two barristers who were present during the proceedings, and other well-known and highly respected witnesses involved in the case; and upon my own observations during part of the hearings.
The first point to be stressed is the integrity and standing of the main participant, whom I shall call Randolph Hammond. Hammond had been unjustly deprived of all rights over his only child, a girl aged four. Custody of the child has been awarded to his wife, from whom he is legally separated, and access to his daughter has been made so inhumanly difficult for him by a judge that in practice he is never likely to see her again.
I shall call Hammond’s wife Olivia, nee Denbeigh. Her main witness was her father, a doctor, for our purposes to be called Roland Denbeigh. According to the evidence I have seen and heard it was Denbeigh who is to blame for breaking up Randolph and Olivia’s marriage, and Denbeigh who instigated the custody action. Olivia herself has described her father to several people as being ‘insanely’ jealous and possessive of her, having broken up all her previous relationships, some with well-known and respected people who were willing to testify to the truth of Hammond’s statements. But the judge in the case refused to hear the evidence of these vital witnesses. Olivia has spoken to many people over the years of her father’s complete domination of her, of her inability to resist him and of her lifelong desire to ‘escape’ from him. He had only to forbid her to marry her previous lovers for her to comply helplessly with his demand. There is evidence that Denbeigh still has this sinister Svengali-like influence over Olivia, although she is well into her thirties. Now, Hammond fears, he is exerting that influence over his granddaughter as well.
During his cross-examination at the trial, it became apparent what a peculiar man Denbeigh was. At a crucial stage in the questioning it came out that he had subjected Olivia to internal examinations every day when she was pregnant, although a Harley Street specialist was in regular attendance. Skilful questioning was beginning to chip away at his upright, moral image and hint at the unnatural relationship he had with his daughter. This in turn showed what a morally and psychologically tainted atmosphere the child would be raised in if Olivia were to be awarded custody. Counsel for Hammond was getting close to showing that the father-daughter relationship was at least mentally incestuous, and was going on to find out the likelihood of there having been actual incest in the past.
Hammond was confident he was on the point of gaining custody of his child, that the judge could not fail to see what an undesirable and even sinister home his daughter would be raised in if custody were awarded to Olivia. But one of the barristers in court was by no means so sure. He told me afterwards, ‘That whole case had a bloody strange feel to it. The whole atmosphere of it gave me a very bad gut feeling. All my instincts told me that Hammond was in the right but that he would go down, and that’s what happened. The decision went the wrong way for no obvious reason I could gauge. But from the evidence in court and the papers of the case, Hammond was in the right.’