MUSLIMS STANDING TRIAL TO HIDE THEIR FACES
Should wearing the veil be banned in court?
Wednesday April 25,2007
By Tom Whitehead The Express
MUSLIM women were yesterday given the full backing of the law to wear veils in court – even if they are standing trial for crimes.
Defendants who are told they must remove their face-covering garment could even be allowed to give evidence in secret so as not to offend them.
Senior judges ruled that religious dress – including the full niqab which leaves only the eyes exposed – should be allowed for anyone involved in a court case unless justice is threatened.
Last year, an immigration tribunal had to be adjourned after a lawyer twice refused to remove her veil despite the judge having difficulty in hearing her.
In the aftermath of that row, the official guidance issued yesterday said any Muslim involved in a court case should be permitted to wear a veil providing it does not interfere with the administration of justice.
It would be left to individual judges to decide on a case by case basis but even where they rule a veil should be removed from a defendant or witness, the court may have to be cleared while they give evidence.
Last night critics said the guidance undermines the most basic of principles – that justice must be seen to be done.
Tory MP Philip Davies said: “People are entitled to see what is going on. All this pussy-footing around, judges have no comprehension of the damage there doing for community cohesion by coming out with this barmy stuff.