Case halted by racial worries 'affinity' halts trial

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The Independent Online
A PAKISTANI magistrate has withdrawn from a case because he could not trust himself to decide between a white couple and a member of his own ethnic group.

The decision has caused consternation within the legal profession because if it is followed to its logical conclusion no judge or magistrate would be able to hear a case where the defendant was of the same race.

The Birmingham magistrate, Chauhdry Rashid, told a 24-year-old Pakistani accused of breaching his bail that he did not feel he could deliver an impartial verdict where the complaint had been brought by a white couple and the police had been accused of bringing the prosecution because of racist reasons.

Speaking after the case last Saturday, Mr Rashid said: "As a result of some of things that were said, I thought it was in everyone's interest if I did not adjudicate." The defendant has subsequently been tried by a white magistrate and found not guilty.

Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, a magistrate, said there was a distinction between understanding a person's circumstances and siding with them.

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