London

Veiled woman Rebekah Dawson will not give evidence

Rebekah Dawson Image copyright PA
Image caption Rebekah Dawson denies witness intimidation

A Muslim woman who was told she must remove her full-face veil if she gives evidence at her trial will not take to the witness box, a court has heard.

Rebekah Dawson, 22, is on trial for alleged witness intimidation, at Blackfriars Crown Court.

Judge Peter Murphy ruled last September she could wear the niqab in court but said she would have to let the jury see her face if she gave evidence.

Her barrister said she would not be giving evidence in her own defence.

'Witness intimidation'

In court, Judge Murphy asked Ms Dawson's barrister Susan Meek whether she had told her client the jury of five women and seven men would be free to "draw such inferences as might be proper" from a decision not to give evidence.

Ms Meek said that she had told her client.

Earlier in the trial, the judge warned jurors to put aside any feelings they might have about her appearance because they would have nothing to do with the case.

At previous hearings, Ms Dawson removed her veil for a female police officer who then verified that she was the defendant.

Ms Dawson, of Hackney, east London, is on trial alongside her brother, Matthias Dawson, 32, accused of intimidating a security guard at the Finsbury Park mosque, in north London, last June.

It is alleged they approached Daudi Yusuf at the mosque after an incident between him and Ms Dawson's husband, Royal Barnes.

Matthias Dawson gave evidence in his defence, saying he had attended the mosque as he had given his sister a lift. He said he saw her talking to a man, but denied being involved.

'Elephant in the room'

Summing up Ms Dawson's defence case, her solicitor told the jury that her client's veil had been the "elephant in the room" during the trial and they should ignore it while deciding on their verdicts.

Ms Meek said: "This is not a trial about the niqab, the niqab is not on trial in this courtroom. This is a woman accused of a criminal offence who happens to wear a niqab."

She said Ms Dawson had admitted speaking to Mr Yusuf at the mosque on 23 June, but she claims that they discussed the original row involving her husband which happened earlier in the month.

She alleges that original row started when Mr Yusuf asked her to remove her veil at the mosque.

Ms Meek said the conversation may have been irritating to Mr Yusuf, but it was not intimidating. The court heard people in a nearby room were shown on CCTV not being disturbed by any raised voices.

Both defendants deny a single charge of witness intimidation.

The case continues.

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