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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 16:31 GMT
Veil row magistrate reprimanded
Ian Murray, pic courtesy of MEN syndication
Ian Murray walked out of the hearing
A magistrate has been reprimanded for refusing to deal with the case of a Muslim woman because she was wearing a veil covering her face.

Ian Murray walked out of court when Zoobia Hussain, 32, first appeared at Manchester Magistrates' Court in June.

Ms Hussain, from Crumpsall, who was accused of criminal damage, was wearing a veil covering her entire face.

The Office of Judicial Complaints said Mr Murray had been given a formal reprimand and further training.

He left the hearing without explaining why, but said later he felt the way Ms Hussain was dressed, in a niqab, raised identity issues.

The mother-of-five's lawyer, Judith Hawkins, said she was "shocked and distressed" by Mr Murray's "insensitive and unacceptable" treatment.

Mrs Hussain, pic courtesy of MEN syndication
Zoobia Hussain was convicted of criminal damage

Ms Hawkins told the bench her client was a practising Muslim who covered herself in public places where men were present as part of her religion.

A formal complaint was made by Ms Hussain and an internal investigation launched and passed to the Office of Judicial Complaints.

A spokesman for the Judicial Communications Office said: "Following an investigation, the Manchester Advisory Committee, the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice have carefully considered all of the circumstances surrounding the complaint against Mr Ian Murray JP.

"They have decided that Mr Murray should be issued with a formal reprimand for his behaviour in court on 27 June 2007.

"The Lord Chief Justice has also directed that Mr Murray should receive further training and guidance to ensure that the appropriate judicial guidelines and procedures are applied properly at all times in the future."

Veil lifted

Ms Hussain's case was later dealt with by a female district judge.

She lifted her veil but gave evidence from behind a screen so men in the court could not see her.

Ms Hussain was convicted of criminal damage after causing 1,500 of damage to a council house when her family was thrown out.

Ms Hussain was given an electronic tag and ordered to pay 500 compensation at the hearing last July.

Veil row woman returns to court
18 Jul 07 |  Manchester
Veil row magistrate investigated
04 Jul 07 |  Manchester
Magistrate walks out in veil row
29 Jun 07 |  Manchester


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