Tuesday, 7 November 2006
Row as immigration lawyer twice defies judge to remove veil

From The Daily Mail

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.

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."

She is not the first, and won’t be the last to be challenged. But when I was a young trainee changer of lightbulbs a woman lawyer would not have walked into court dressed in anything other than a black suit, skirt knee length or just below, with hair off the collar. Any lawyer not dressed according to the conventions was answered, if they tried to speak, with the words “I cannot see you” until they left court to amend whatever was wrong. Tribunals are less formal, but still how times have changed.

Posted on 11/07/2006 3:36 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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