A newly-wed who was stripped of her wedding jewellery by customs officials as she returned to the UK following her marriage celebration in Pakistan has had her hopes of getting it back boosted after the First-Tier Tribunal directed a reconsideration of her case in the light of the symbolic and traditional factors involved.
The Muslim woman had been given gold jewellery by members of her husband’s family following their marriage. When she flew back to Birmingham Airport wearing the gifts, they were seized by customs officers on the basis that their value – approximately £2,850 – exceeded the maximum permitted allowance for ‘other goods’ being brought into the UK from outside the European Union.
She appealed to the Director of Border Revenue who declined to return the items after a reviewing officer expressed the view that she had deliberately tried to avoid paying duty on them. However, in overturning that decision, the Tribunal found that her account of what happened at the airport was ‘entirely truthful’.
The woman argued that it was traditional for the groom’s family to dress the bride in the jewellery that they have given her and that was why she was wearing it when she arrived at the airport. The Tribunal found that there was no reason to doubt her credibility and that the reviewing officer had failed to take into account ‘the traditional and symbolic significance’ of the jewellery.