Jewish judge ‘not bi­ased’ in Arab asy­lum-seeker rul­ing

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - BY AN­SHEL PF­EF­FER

THE LAW Lords have up­held the de­ci­sion of a Jewish judge to refuse asy­lum to a Pales­tinian woman, deny­ing the claim that the judge’s mem­ber­ship of a Jewish ju­rists’ or­gan­i­sa­tion prej­u­diced her abil­ity to hear the case.

The rul­ing in the House of Lords reaf­firmed a 2007 rul­ing by the Ed­in­burgh Court of Ses­sions on the suit­abil­ity of Lady Cos­grove, Scot­land’s first fe­male judge, now re­tired, to act as a “fair-minded and in­formed ob­server” in the case of Fa­tima Helow, a Pales­tinian woman who sur­vived the 1982 Sabra and Shatila mas­sacre in Le­banon. Mrs Helow was part of the group that in 2002 tried to charge for­mer Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ariel Sharon, in the In­ter­na­tional Court of Jus­tice, for his al­leged in­volve­ment in the mas­sacre.

In 2004, Lady Cos­grove as the re­view­ing judge up­held the de­ci­sion of the Scot­tish Home Depart­ment to refuse Mrs Helow refugee sta­tus in the UK. Mrs Helow’s lawyers tried to ap­peal against the rul­ing on the grounds that Lady Cos­grove was not an im­par­tial ob­server due to her mem­ber­ship of the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Jewish Lawyers and Ju­rists (IAJLJ). The ap­peal cited speeches by IAJLJ leaders and ar­ti­cles in its quar­terly mag­a­zine that were highly crit­i­cal of Pales­tinian at­tempts to act against Is­rael in in­ter­na­tional courts as proof of Lady Cos­grove’s al­leged bias.

The ap­peal was dis­missed last year in Scot­land and brought be­fore the House of Lords. The five Law Lords re­jected the ap­peal on the grounds that there was no ev­i­dence that Lady Cos­grove held par­ti­san views, such as those ex­pressed by other mem­bers of IAJLJ. The se­nior judge, Lord Hope of Craig­head, wrote: “There is no ba­sis on which the ob­server would con­clude that there was a rea­son­able pos­si­bil­ity that the judge was bi­ased.”

Both Lady Cos­grove and Mrs Helow de­clined to com­ment on the rul­ing.

Mick Napier, chair of the Scot­tish Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Cam­paign, which has been sup­port­ing Mrs Helow, said: “There’s some­thing wrong when a sur­vivor of Sabra and Shatila is told she can­not stay here af­ter be­ing fully in­te­grated into the Glasgow com­mu­nity, while the man who was seen, even by the Is­raeli Ka­han Com­mis­sion as re­spon­si­ble for the mas­sacre, Ariel Sharon, was al­lowed into 10 Down­ing Street. As to the rul­ing, there have to be ques­tions on Lady Cos­grove’s suit­abil­ity to sit on the ap­peal given her in­volve­ment in such an overtly Zion­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

“Fair-minded”: Lady Cos­grove

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