by Jack Teague for the Daily Express

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Ian Murray walked out because Ms Hussain was wearing a niqab, like the one shown

A MAGISTRATE who refused to deal with a Muslim woman when she turned up at court wearing a full-face veil was today reprimanded.

Ian Murray stormed out when vandal Zoobia Hussain, 32, appeared before the bench at Manchester Magistrates’ Court in June last year.

Jobless Ms Hussain, who lives on benefits and was subsequently found guilty of criminal damage, made a formal complaint and an investigation was launched by local magistrates and passed to the Office of Judicial Complaints. Mr Murray has not worked as a magistrate since.

The decision to reprimand him today was rubber-stamped by the Lord Chancellor, Jack Straw, and the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips.

The mother-of-five was wearing a niqab, a veil covering her entire face apart from her eyes, when she appeared at the court accused of wrecking her council house with graffiti after being evicted for not paying rent.

Housing officers found graffiti sprayed on the walls and holes in the doors.

The long-term benefit claimant denied she had trashed the property out of spite after being evicted.

At first Mr Murray didn’t give a reason for his sudden exit, but later said that he felt the way she was dressed raised identity issues.

Hussain’s lawyer, Judith Hawkins, said her client was ‘shocked and distressed’ by Murray’s ‘insensitive and unacceptable’ treatment.

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.

Today the Office of Judicial Complaints revealed that along with the reprimand Mr Murray has been ordered to receive further training.

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.

Hussain¹s case was later dealt with by a female district judge – who asked her to lift her veil, though the defendant was allowed to give evidence from behind a screen so men in the court could not see her.

She was convicted of criminal damage after causing £1,500 of damage to a council house when her family was thrown out. She was given an electronic tag and ordered to pay £500 compensation at the hearing last July.


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