A MUSLIM lawyer who refused to take off her veil at a court hearing has been replaced in the case by her bosses.
Shabnam Mughal, a lawyer at the Coventry-based firm The Law Partnership, hit the headlines after refusing to take off her veil when asked by the judge earlier this month.
Judge George Glossop had asked Ms Mughal to remove her veil saying he could not hear her clearly.
The tribunal hearing was postponed last week following Ms Mughal’s stance.
But she will now not head the tribunal after solicitor Abdul Khan said the decision was made in the interests of the client.
He added the move to take Ms Mughal off the case was not a reflection on her abilities as a lawyer nor were the firm “backing down” on the issue of the veil.
“It is not an issue of us backing down. We represent clients and our duty is to make sure that their interests are at the forefront of our mind”, he said.
“The decision was made solely in the interests of our client.”
Following the incident the Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Hodge, said full rules on the veil issue were being drawn up so as to avoid the postponement of cases involving veil-wearing lawyers and solicitors.
But he did rule that veils could be worn in court unless it interferes with the “interests of justice”.
“Immigration judges must exercise discretion on a case-by-case basis where a representative wishes to wear a veil”, he said.
“The presumption is that if a representative before an AIT tribunal wishes to wear a veil, has the agreement of his or her client and can be heard reasonably clearly by all parties to the proceedings, then the representative should be allowed to do so.
“If a judge or other party to the proceedings is unable to hear the representative clearly then the interests of justice are not served and other arrangements will need to be made.
“Such arrangements will vary from case to case, subject to judicial discretion and the interests of all parties.”
The incident has become part of a wider debate on the veil worn by Muslim women following comments made by former Home secretary Jack Straw.
His claims that the veil created a barrier in community integration were widely condemned by Muslim groups.
Last month teaching assistant Aishah Azmi lost an employment tribunal after being suspended for refusing to remove her veil from class.