Britain’s senior-most judge has spoken out against veils being allowed during criminal trials, saying women should not be allowed to cover their faces in court to rule out any doubts over their credibility.
“I can see serious difficulties with the idea that a witness should have her head covered where evidence is contested. If there is any question of credibility, it should be uncovered,” Lord Neuberger, the president of Britain’s Supreme Court, told ‘The Times’.
“The jury system works in this country by contested evidence being decided by witnesses giving evidence before a jury and having credibility weighed and one factor taken into account is the impression the witness makes and that includes being able to see the witness’s face,” he said.
Lord Neuberger told the newspaper that previously he had been misunderstood when he was credited with backing the wearing of veils in court.
“What I was saying that and I don’t think many would disagree was that witnesses and parties in court may have beliefs, convictions, which are not those that most people have or the judge is familiar with and the judge should be sympathetic and understanding of those factors, such as a woman not used to appearing with her face uncovered.”
He said that judicial policy on veil-wearing was decided on a case-by-case basis and that seemed to be working.