The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the case of RC to the Crown Court.
Mr C is an Iranian national who was involved over a number of years with anti-government activity in his country. He was imprisoned on a number of occasions and tortured.
In March 2011, in fear of his life, he fled overland to Turkey. From there he travelled by sea to Greece where agents/ people traffickers took his Iranian passport and provided him with a false burgundy coloured document. In September 2011 he used that false passport to board a flight from Greece to Manchester. During the flight he gave the false passport back to the agent.
After landing he told airport staff he had no passport and he was arrested.
Four days later he appeared at Trafford Magistrates’ Court, where, having been advised to do so by a solicitor, he pleaded guilty to the charge of failing to provide a valid immigration document contrary to section 2(1) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004. He was jailed for four months.
In November 2017 Mr C applied to the CCRC for a review of his case.
On arrival in the UK in 2011, Mr C said he wished to claim asylum on the basis that, if he returned to Iran, he would be killed because of his involvement in anti-regime demonstrations and online anti-government activity.
Early in 2012, the Home Office granted asylum and leave to remain for five years. In January 2017, Mr C applied for indefinite leave to remain, but was refused and instead granted leave until 2020. The refusal of indefinite leave was directly related to the 2011 travel documents conviction now being referred for appeal by the CCRC.
Having reviewed the case in detail, the CCRC has decided to refer Mr C’s conviction for appeal because it believes there is a real possibility that the subsequent appeal will succeed.
The referral is made on the basis that Mr C had a statutory defence under section 2(4)(c) of the 2004 Act in relation to the charge of failure to produce an immigration document and that that defence is likely to succeed on a fresh hearing (i.e. an appeal at Crown Court).
Mr C was not legally represented in his application to the CCRC. His identity has been concealed because of ongoing security concerns.
 In reaching its decisions the Commission has considered the case of R v Mehmet Ordu  EWCA Crim 4 because it is possible that the court may find that defence advice in these cases was wrong only because of a subsequent change of law. In any event the Commission has taken the view that, even if the appeal court finds the defence advice was wrong at the time, substantial injustice may still be considered. This is because, while this may be considered a relatively minor conviction, its longer term implications for the applicant are arguably significant.
Notes for editors
- The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently reviewing suspected and alleged miscarriages of criminal justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is based in Birmingham and is funded by the Ministry of Justice.
- There are currently 13 Commissioners who bring to the Commission considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the Queen on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practic
- The Commission usually receives around 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications to the appeal courts
- The Commission considers whether, as a result of new evidence or argument, there is a real possibility that the conviction would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New evidence or argument is argument or evidence which has not been raised during the trial or on appeal. Applicants should usually have appealed first. A case can be referred in the absence of new evidence or argument or an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”
- If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair
- More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate.