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News Code: 956


Muslim woman refuses to remove veil to give evidence to jury in court

A Muslim woman has refused to give evidence in court after being told she would have to remove it.

The barrister representing Rebekah Dawson, 22, said she would not speak in court as she faces trial for alleged witness intimidation.

She had previously been allowed to appear during the course of the trial with a niqab revealing only her eyes. But she was told last September by trial Judge Peter Murphy that she would have to remove it when addressing the jury of five women and seven men in order to allow them to see her face as she gave evidence.

Judge Murphy had asked Ms Meek whether she had told her client that the jury would be free to "draw such inferences as might be proper" from a decision not to give evidence.

Speaking at Blackfriars' Crown Court, she said she had.

"Does she intend to give evidence?" he asked.

"No", Ms Meek replied.

Dawson, of Hackey, east London, is on trial alongside her brother, Matthias Dawson, 32, accused of intimidating a security guard at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London last June.

It is alleged they approached Daudi Yusuf at the mosque after an incident between him and Ms Dawson's husband, Royal Barnes.

Both defendants deny a single charge of witness intimidation.

Earlier in the trial, Judge Murphy told the jury that Dawson was "fully entitled" to dress how she chose to in court.

He told jurors to put aside any feelings they might have about her appearance because they would have nothing to do with the case.

Matthias Dawson gave evidence in his defence, saying he would not have done anything to help his brother-in-law.

"I don't particularly like him, to tell the truth," he said.

"I don't think he is good for my sister."

Muslim convert Mr Dawson admitted attending the mosque with the hood of his hoodie raised.

But he said he had been there because he had been giving his sister a lift through the area, she had wanted to pray, and he decided to do the same.

He said he heard his sister talking with a man but denied being involved himself.

Source: Standard