Tuesday, 07 November 2006 16:43
An immigration tribunal had to be stopped after a lawyer twice refused a judge's request that she remove her veil.
Shabnam Mughal appeared at the tribunal dressed head-to-foot in black and wearing a fullface veil with just her eyes showing. She was representing a Sikh businessman appealing against the Home Office's refusal to grant his nephew permission to visit the UK. Now another judge, Sir Henry Hodge, head of the Asylum and Immigrations Tribunals, will rule on what should happen next in the case. At the original hearing tribunal chairman George Glossop asked her to remove the veil during the tribunal hearing in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. She refused and the case was adjourned until the afternoon.When the case was reconvened Judge Glossop said: "I am not very happy that you are appearing in a veil. Would you kindly remove it to assist with communications?"It will allow me to see your face and I cannot hear you as well as I would like."
Miss Mughal, who is in her twenties, replied: "Sir, we have been through this issue." She then announced: "Sir, I am taking my leave." She returned to the court as Judge Glossop was talking to Mr Singh. On seeing her enter he asked Miss Mughal: "Do you wish to carry on?" She replied: "No, I just want to listen to what is being said." Judge Glossop continued: "If you remove your veil, which happens in other courts, we can proceed, otherwise I am going to have consultations with the President of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. Will you remove it?" Miss Mughal responded: "You are clearly aware of my position on the grounds of my religious beliefs. I won't." The dispute follows the case of Muslim teaching assistant Aishah Azmi who was suspended from her job at Headfield Church of England Junior School in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, after refusing to remove her veil.
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