A Muslim woman, known only as D, has been allowed to stand trial while wearing a full-face veil but must remove it while giving evidence, a judge has ruled.
Judge Murphy said that when the woman is asked to take off the niqab ahead of giving evidence, she should be given some time to reflect.
If she refuses the judge should not allow her to give evidence and must give the jury a clear direction.
The judge said it was necessary for a democratic society to restrict the rights of a defendant to wear a niqab during court proceedings.
Balancing the right of religious manifestation against the rights and freedoms of the public, the press and other interested parties such as the complainant in the proper administration of justice, the latter must prevail over D's right to manifest her religion or belief during the proceedings against her to the extent necessary in the interests of justice.
No tradition or practice, whether religious or otherwise, can claim to occupy such a privileged position that the rule of law, open justice and the adversarial trial process are sacrificed to accommodate it.That is not a discrimination against religion, it is a matter of upholding the rule of law in a democratic society.
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