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.