End Times

‘Remove your niqab’ Judge refuses to hear Muslim woman’s evidence until she takes off veil

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Judge Audrey Balla said the ruling, the first of its kind in the country, was necessary because the veil prevented him from reading Moutia Elzahed’s expression.

Ms Elzahed refused a number of alternatives, including the court being closed to the public, as she gave evidence or the opportunity to give evidence in a smaller, more private room.

Her counsel Clive Evatt explained: “I’m instructed that she’s of the Muslim religion and it’s against her religion to reveal her face to men, although not to women.

“Therefore, I’m instructed she will not remove her veil, if that’s the correct expression, or whatever it is.”

Mr Balla refused to let Ms Eslzahed give evidence while wearing her niqab, claiming it would impair his judgement.

He explained: “I must take into account whether I would be impeded in my ability to fully assess the reliability and credibility of the evidence of the first plaintiff if I am not afforded the opportunity of being able to see her face when she gives evidence.

“I am well aware that the demeanour of a witness and the viewing of their face is not the only way in which credibility is assessed. In some cases, the demeanour of a witness may be misleading.

“However, neither of those considerations can, in my view, mean that I should be completely deprived of having the assistance of seeing her face to assess her credibility.”

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