Oct 22 2013
A top judge has criticized the “astonishing” £350,000 ($570,000) cost of a legal battle over a Muslim couple’s right to shave their disabled daughter’s pubic hair.
UK Telegraph Taxpayers have been left with a legal bill of £350,000 after Muslim parents went to court to win right to shave their disabled daughter’s pubic hair. The mother and father of the young woman, who cannot be named and is referred to as ED in court documents, said their daughter’s pubic hair should be removed in line with Islamic tradition.
But their local council, which has cared for their daughter since 2008, questioned whether the disabled woman had the mental capacity to consent to her hair being removed.
In 2011 the couple applied to the family court for their daughter, now in her thirties, to be returned home and raised the “stark” issue of her pubic hair being removed – leading to a long-running, £350,000 taxpayer-funded legal battle.
But the couple have now dropped the case at the last minute, leaving a judge at London’s High Court “utterly baffled”. Mr Justice Roderic Wood said: “I thus remain utterly baffled by the course this litigation has taken, and perplexed by this lack of clarity in their case.
The local authority involved had incurred costs of £138,000, the couple of £82,000 and the official solicitor, appearing for ED, of £130,000 – with the taxpayer footing the entire bill.
“This is an astonishing sum of money,” the judge said. “Particularly when one considers…that the ultimate resolution is that the parents have, ultimately with their own ‘consent’, agreed to orders which dismiss any hope of ED coming to live with them and a significant reduction in her contact with them.”
In the lead up to a final hearing, fixed for this month, “a great morass” of evidence was prepared, including 740 pages of witness statements, 300 pages of expert evidence as well as other documents, the judge added.
Unchallenged evidence from a cultural expert observed that “whilst there was a duty to remove pubic hair – both for religious and cultural reasons – there is an exemption for those incapacitated such as ED”.