A UK judge told a Muslim woman in court on Friday who refused to reveal her face that she must remove her burka before submitting a plea.
The judge told the court that the principle of open justice outweighed the women’s religious beliefs, stating that there was a danger that a different person could pretend to be her in the dock due to a lack of identification, according to the Daily Mail.
The woman appeared before court in London after she was accused of intimidating a witness, but said that she cannot take off her veil for religious reasons.
“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,” said Judge Peter Murphy, as quoted by the newspaper.
Claire Burtwhistle, the lawyer representing the woman, told the court that her defendant would not remove her burka when men were in the room, suggesting that herself or another female police officer or prison guard could identify and confirm the defendant’s identity.
However, Judge Murphy rejected the proposal, stating that the court had the “highest respect” for religious traditions but that it was “fundamental” that the court is satisfied that the defendant is the person in question.
“There is the principle of open justice and it can’t be subject to the religion of the defendant whether the principle is observed or not,” added the judge.
“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 adjourned the case for legal argument over whether the defendant should be required to remove her veil.