They settle domestic disputes, rule on financial disagreements and even grant marriages and divorces. But Sharia courts that dish out verdicts based on hardline Islamic law operate outside our justice system. Recent attempts by the Ministry of Justice to investigate the courts were abandoned following a lack of co-operation from Muslim elders.
The Daily Star Sunday gained unprecedented access to this secretive network, accused by Baroness Cox of using "intimidation backed by death threats". Last month the cross-bencher claimed they could eventually lead to the destruction of democracy, with stonings, whippings and amputations becoming common punishments.
And which "hidden Sharia courts" did the Star get "exclusive access" to? Just the one, in Whitechapel, run by none other than Anjem Choudary, at whose invitation the paper obviously acquired this access. Yet again we have a case of Choudary collaborating with the right-wing press in their campaign to misrepresent and whip up hostility towards the Muslim community.