Cherie Blair ‘wrong to spare religious man jail’
Secularist group complains over leniency shown to violent man because of his belief
The former prime minister's wife, Cherie Blair, is in trouble. Not for any money-making or property-spending ruse on this occasion, but for sparing a man from prison because he was religious - a decision she made in her capacity as a judge at the Inner London Crown Court.
Cherie Booth QC - the name she uses professionally- is well known for her own strong beliefs as a Roman Catholic. Her husband, Tony Blair, converted to Rome soon after he left Downing Street.
Yesterday, she heard the case against Shamso Miah, a 25-year-old east Londoner who broke a man's jaw during a row in Lloyds Bank in East Ham. Miah - who had just been to the mosque - got into a dispute with Mohammed Furcan about who was next in line.
Miah punched Furcan inside the bank and again on the pavement outside.
Judge Booth said violence had to be taken seriously but that because he was religious, and had not been in trouble before, she would give Miah a suspended sentence. "You are a religious man and you know this is not acceptable behaviour."
Now the National Secular Society has stepped in, issuing a formal complaint that the suspended sentence was unjust and discriminatory if - as it appeared from Booth's comments - a non-religious man would have been treated differently. ·