Lawyer ‘in tears’ after row with court security over his ‘religious dagger’

A Sikh lawyer claims he was left feeling "humiliated and degraded" after security staff refused to allow him into court with a religious blade.

Jaskeerat Singh Gulshan, 29, said he was left in tears after being forced to remove his Kirpan, a small ceremonial dagger and one of the five articles of the Sikh faith that must be worn at all times.

He claims he felt discriminated against during the incident at Ealing Magistrates' Court in west London and is now afraid to enter other courts.

Mr Gulshan, who is the co-founder of the Sikh Lawyers Association, said he may even consider changing career to avoid entering court buildings.

The immigration and family lawyer, who was at court to support a witness, said both he and his brother were asked to remove their Kirpans so they could be measured by a female guard.

Security staff told the pair that Kirpans may only be six inches in total length, with a blade no longer than four inches.

He said: "I am a lawyer and I have been attending courts on a regular basis for the last seven years with the same Kirpan and I have never had any problem.

"The security staff had no knowledge of Kirpans and they continuously referred to the Kirpan as a knife.”

After waiting for an hour and a half for security staff to check the policy with magistrates, Mr Gulshan and his brother were allegedly told to "leave the court building or hand over the Kirpan".

Mr Gulshan, from Southall, west London, claimed one member of security made him feel as though he was "rebellious" and kept "shouting over me telling me to leave the building".

"Her behaviour toward us was offensive and degrading," he claimed.

"It was at that point I suggested to the senior security officer I could remove my Kirpan and leave it in my car, as I wished to return to the court.

"I felt harassed, embarrassed, degraded and discriminated against by the actions of security staff. I was forced to leave my Kirpan as I could not leave the victim alone in the court building. I removed my Kirpan in tears and left it in the car glove compartment, whilst apologising to God, and regretting that I am doing something I should not have to do."

He added: "I am now afraid of going to other courts as a lawyer and I am frightened that similar incidents may reoccur and I will be forced to remove my Kirpan.

"Removing my Kirpan makes me feel like I am being prohibited from practising my religious values and I do not intend to do that in the future.

"If I am restricted from wearing Kirpan in the court buildings in the future, then I will consider changing my profession and I will not practise law."

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said security staff followed "correct procedure.

The spokesperson said: "Two members of the public were not permitted to enter the court after refusing to cooperate with staff who wished to check their Kirpans to ensure they were in line with HMCTS security guidelines.

"They decided to leave their Kirpans in their car and re-enter the court without them."

The Ministry of Justice said where a member of the Sikh community wishes to visit court, the requirements are that the whole Kirpan cannot be longer than six inches, with a blade of no more than four inches in length.

It later added that these requirements have been provided and are available through the Sikh Council.

The Sikh Council has been contacted for comment.

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