Scots judge re­jects ‘Jewish bias’ in rul­ing on Pales­tinian refugee

The Jewish Chronicle - - HOME NEWS - BY BERNARD JOSEPHS

A JUDGE who up­held a de­ci­sion to refuse asy­lum to a Pales­tinian wo­man has re­jected sug­ges­tions that her Jewish back­ground in­flu­enced her de­ci­sion.

Lady Cos­grove, Scot­land’s first fe­male judge, told the JC that the claim by Fa­tima Helow, a sur­vivor of the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp killings, was “to­tally un­founded.”

She had dis­pensed jus­tice “with­out fear or favour. There was no ques­tion of bias,” said the now-re­tired judge, a mem­ber of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.

Three ap­peal judges at Ed­in­burgh’s Court of Ses­sion this week dis­missed claims that Lady Cos­grove’s im­par­tial­ity had been com­pro­mised by her mem­ber­ship of the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

Back­ing the 2004 de­ci­sion to re­ject Ms Helow’s ap­pli­ca­tion for asy­lum in the UK, Lords Nimmo Smith, Kin­garth and Kirk­wood ruled there were no grounds for fear­ing that the judge may have been “un­con­sciously or un­wit­tingly in­flu­enced” in her de­ci­sion.

The se­nior judge, Lord Nimmo Smith, told the hear­ing that while a fair-minded and in­formed ob­server might as­sume that Lady Cos­grove’s mem­ber­ship of the IAJLJ im­plied sym­pa­thy to Is­rael, only the “un­duly sen­si­tive” would see any­thing wrong in her judg­ing the case.

He added: “We see no rea­son to sup­pose any in­tel­li­gent and in­de­pen­dent­ly­minded judge of the Court of Ses­sion, hav­ing taken the ju­di­cial oath and be­ing well able to form her own views, would be in­flu­enced in this way.”

Ms Helow’s le­gal chal­lenge was launched af­ter Lady Cos­grove turned down her ap­pli­ca­tion for re­view of a de­ci­sion to refuse her asy­lum in the UK. She said that her grand­mother, aunt and un­cle were among those killed by Pha­langist gun­men who en­tered Sabra and Shatila in 1982. She claimed asy­lum and hu­man rights pro­tec­tion be­cause of her Pales­tinian back­ground, her Mus­lim re­li­gion, gen­der and her sup­port of the Pales­tine Lib­er­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The chair­man of the Scot­tish Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Cam­paign, which had sup­ported her case, said the Court of Ses­sion de­ci­sion had “rubbed salt in the wound.” Mick Napier be­lieved that “the rep­u­ta­tion of the ju­di­cial sys­tem has suf­fered a se­ri­ous knock... There will be a wide­spread per­cep­tion that there was a very strong dan­ger of bias.”

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