Britain's official Titanic inquiry has already been called a "whitewash"—but was it a conspiracy of Freemasons? A recently revealed list of two million Freemasons shows that members of their fraternity played a big role in the controversial investigation, the Telegraph reports. On the list are John Bigham, who oversaw the probe; Sydney Buxton, then president of the British Board of Trade; and at least two of five experts used in the inquiry. Lord Pirrie, who was chairman of the shipyard that built the Titanic and a director of the parent company that owned the ship's White Star Line, also apparently was a Freemason. "The Titanic inquiry in Britain was branded a 'whitewash' because it exonerated most of those involved," says Titanic expert Nic Compton.
The probe interviewed only three passengers, Compton says, and even the ship's captain got off on the argument that ships at the time broke through ice at full throttle. A US Senate inquiry, however, criticized the White Star Line and accused the British Board of Trade of having far too few lifeboats on board—while the UK probe didn't censure the Board of Trade. Posted on Ancestry.com, the Freemason list contains thousands of influential names including statesmen, police, lawyers, and authors, and could force a reassessment of British history, the Telegraph says. There are said to be roughly 6 million Freemasons alive today, with a third of them living in the US, reports the Mirror, which runs through some high-profile members of the past. (The new list includes Jack the Ripper candidate Michael Maybrick, whose identity may have been hidden by fellow Masons).