UK

Woman In Veil Stands Trial, Judge Warns Jury Not To Be Prejudiced

23/01/2014 08:20 GMT | Updated 23/01/2014 08:59 GMT
Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
Rebekah Dawson, 21, arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court where she charged with terror offences over video clips about the murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

A judge has urged a jury not to be prejudiced by the face that a woman on trial is wearing a full face veil.

Rebekah Dawson, who is accused of making efforts to intimidate a mosque security guard, will have to remove it when she gives evidence.

The judge, Peter Murphy, warned jurors to put aside any feelings they might have about the way she chose to dress and said it would be "quite wrong" to be prejudiced against anybody because of their expression of religious faith.

"I am sure you will have noticed that the defendant Rebekah Dawson is wearing a full face veil - it hides her face apart from a narrow slit for the eyes," he told the jury.

"Let me begin by saying that in this country everyone is entitled to express any religious view they wish or to hold no religious view.

"Also we are entitled to express any religious view we may have in any way that we choose that includes wearing a form of dress which a person may consider to be appropriate."

He added: "I emphasise that Rebekah Dawson is fully entitled to dress in any way she chooses, if you have any feelings about that, put them aside because they have nothing to do with the case."

Judge Murphy was speaking after he upheld a ruling he gave last September that Ms Dawson can stand trial wearing the full face veil but must remove it while giving evidence.

He told the jury that he had ruled that if Rebekah Dawson chooses to give evidence, she must remove her veil.

Rebekah Dawson, 22, and her 32-year-old brother Matthias made attempts to "frighten and intimidate" Daudi Yusuf, a security guard at Finsbury Park Mosque in north London who was a potential witness in proceedings against her husband, Royal Barnes, Blackfriars Crown Court was told.

Rebekah Dawson, who is formerly of Ferme Park Road, Stroud Green, north London, and Matthias Dawson, of Sycamore Court, Silverdale, Sydenham, south east London, both deny a single charge of witness intimidation.

The trial was adjourned until Friday when it is expected to conclude.