The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Mr U to the Court of Appeal.
Mr U, an Iranian national, arrived in the United Kingdom in February 2011 on a flight from Toulouse in France to Gatwick Airport. He was stopped on suspicion of being in possession of a false identity document – namely an Israeli passport.
When challenged he admitted that the passport was not his and said he wished to claim asylum in the UK on the basis that he fled Iran where his life was in danger. He said the threat came from the family of a woman with whom he had had an adulterous relationship, and from the Iranian authorities who were pursuing him because of the adultery and because they had searched his home and found leaflets about converting from Islam to Christianity.
Mr U was arrested and interviewed in the presence of the duty solicitor and an interpreter on 13 February 2011. He was charged with possession of a false passport with intent, and with possession of a false document without reasonable excuse.
On the advice of the solicitor he pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court, to the second count (possession of a false document without reasonable excuse) and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment.
Mr U was granted asylum in the UK by the Home Office in 2013. He applied to the Commission for a review of his conviction in October 2012.
After a detailed review of the case, the Commission has decided to refer Mr U’s conviction to the Court of Appeal because it considers that there is a real possibility that the Court will quash his conviction. The referral is made on the basis that Mr U had a statutory defence available to him under section 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 and that the statutory defence would probably have succeeded.
This case is one of several involving asylum seekers and refugees that the Commission has referred to the appeal courts in recent months. 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 Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes for editors
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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”.
5. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.