UK judge orders Muslim woman to remove her burqa

Claimed someone else may pretend to be the defendant and give evidence on her behalf
By Shane McGinley
Sun 25 Aug 2013 10:25 AM

A UK judge has banned a Muslim woman from wearing a burqa while appearing in court and ordered her to show her face in order to rule out the possibility of another person pretending to be her and giving evidence on her behalf.

Judge Peter Murphy told the 21-year-old Muslim female defendant, who is facing charges of intimidating a witness, the principle of open justice superseded her religious beliefs, The Guardian newspaper reported.

"While I obviously respect the right to dress in any way she wishes, certainly while outside the court, the interests of justice are paramount. I can't, as a circuit judge, accept a plea from a person whose identity I am unable to ascertain,” the judge said.

"It would be easy for someone on a later occasion to appear and claim to be the defendant. The court would have no way to check on that," he added.

Claire Burtwistle, the unnamed woman's barrister, told the court the woman could not show her face while men were present in the court and suggested a female police officer could verify her identity in advance of her giving evidence.

"I am not saying this because of the particular form of dress by this defendant, I apply that to any form of dress that had the same issues," the judge claimed before the case was adjourned until September 12.

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