Last Thursday Rizlaine Boular, Mina Dich and Khawla Barghouthi appeared before Westminster magistrates' court in London in connection with charges of conspiracy and preparing terrorist acts.

Ms Boular appeared in court wearing a niqab (a face covering with eyes uncovered), Ms Dich, a veil with an area of mesh completely covering the eyes, and Ms Barghouthi, a hijab. Tomorrow, they appear at a hearing in the Old Bailey.

Jonathan Raban, writing in 1979, saw such "strange sights" only up the Edgware Road.

Not so today! Niqabs are a feature of city life and courtroom drama, presenting challenges to magistrates and jurors who rely on orality and the visibility of witnesses' nonverbal cues, facial gestures and bodily demeanour in finding and inferring truth.

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