A judge told a Muslim woman she must remove her burkha in court before she can enter a plea after she refused to reveal her face.
Judge Peter Murphy said the principle of open justice overrode the 21-year-old woman's religious beliefs, and warned there was a risk a different person could go into the dock pretending to be her.
The woman, from Hackney, east London, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, appeared before Blackfriars Crown Court today charged with intimidating a witness.
She said she cannot remove the veil in front of men because of her religious beliefs.
Judge Murphy told her: ‘It is necessary for this court to be satisfied that they can recognise the defendant.
‘While I obviously respect the right to dress in any way she wishes, certainly while outside the court, the interests of justice are paramount.
‘I can’t, as a circuit judge, accept a plea from a person whose identity I am unable to ascertain.’
He added: ‘It would be easy for someone on a later occasion to appear and claim to be the defendant.
‘The court would have no way to check on that.’
Her barrister, Claire Burtwistle, told the court the woman was not prepared to lower her veil at all while men were in the room.
‘In front of women, it is not an issue’, she said. ‘It is simply men that she will not allow to see her face.’