They settle domestic disputes, rule on financial disagreements and even grant marriages and divorces.

But Sharia courts that dish out verdicts based on hardline Islamic law operate outside our justice system.

Recent attempts by the Ministry of Justice to investigate the courts were abandoned following a lack of co-operation from Muslim elders.

The Daily Star Sunday gained unprecedented access to this secretive network, accused by Baroness Cox of using "intimidation backed by death threats".

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