Letter: Clothed in the garb of justice

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article 'A bonfire of wigs' (20 August) argued well and convincingly for the abolition of wigs in the courtroom. However, on the matter of gowns, there is an important point neglected in both the consultation paper and your editorial; this is that gowns supply a crucial factor of uniformity, vital certainly among barristers, as it removes the possibility of counsel being tempted to impress the jury through their attire.

Laughable though it may sound, what people wear in court does seem to have an effect on the viewing public, and therefore presumably the jury also. This effect was highlighted in your newspaper when reports discussed the lavish dress sense of John Gotti, the American crime boss, during his recent murder trial in New York. The possibly prejudicial effect of lawyers' personal wardrobes should not be allowed to pervade British courtrooms. The gowns should stay.

Yours faithfully,

EDMUND SMYTH

Canterbury, Kent

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