The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred for appeal the travel document offence of Ms F.
Ms F arrived in the UK from Iran without a passport or any other form of immigration document, and was charged with failing to produce an immigration document contrary section 2(1) of the Asylum and Immigration (treatment of claimants) Act 2004.
Ms F pleaded guilty in the magistrates’ court, apparently on the advice of her legal representatives. She was sentenced to 16 weeks’ imprisonment. The Home Office subsequently granted Ms F indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
Because she pleaded guilty in the magistrates’ court, Ms F had no right of appeal and so she applied to the Commission to contest her criminal conviction.
Having considered the case, the Commission has decided to refer it for appeal at the Crown Court. The referral is made on the basis that Ms F could not have made an informed choice as to plea because it appears that the legal advice she received was incorrect and she should have been advised that she was entitled to rely on the statutory defence available under section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) etc. Act 2004; namely that she had a reasonable excuse for not having a travel document.
The Commission therefore considers there is a real possibility that the relevant Crown Court will conclude that, in all the circumstances, it should allow the applicant to vacate her guilty plea on the basis that she was deprived of a defence that was likely to have succeeded.
In light of the circumstances of her arrival and seeking asylum in the UK, the Commission has agreed to conceal the identity of Ms F.
This case is one of a number involving asylum seekers and refugees that the Commission has referred to the appeal courts in recent years. Several other cases raising similar issues are currently being investigated by the Commission.
Two articles written by the Commission discussing other cases and explaining the issues and the law in this area can be seen on the Law Society Gazette website at:
This press release was issued by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. For further enquires call 0121 233 1473 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
- The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for 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 12 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 Practice.
- The Commission usually receives around 1,500 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Typically, around 3.5%, or one in 29, of all applications are referred 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 and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/criminalcasesreview/