The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the case of Miss S to the Crown Court.
Miss S is an Iranian who fled Iran following her treatment by government forces because of her involvement in a political movement and after a close friend was killed during an anti-government demonstration.
She left Iran in June 2012 and travelled by lorry to Turkey where an agent provided her with a passport and arranged a two flight journey which ended at Manchester airport in late June 2012. The agent told her to wait in the airport toilets until she was found by a security guard. When she was found she immediately claimed asylum.
She was arrested and charged with failing to have an immigration document contrary to sections 2(1) and (9) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004.
On advice of a local legally aided solicitor she pleaded guilty at Trafford Magistrates Court and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment.
In February 2013 the Home Office granted Miss S asylum and leave to remain in the United Kingdom for five years. She was granted indefinite leave to remain in April 2018.
She applied to the CCRC for a review of her conviction in January 2018.
The CCRC has decided to refer Miss S’s conviction for appeal because it considers that there is a real possibility that the Crown Court will vacate her guilty plea and order a stay of proceedings. Or, if Miss S is prosecuted again, that she will be acquitted on the basis of the statutory defence under section 2(4)(c) of Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004, that ought to have been available to her when she was first prosecuted in 2012.
Miss S was represented in her application to the Commission by Luqmani Thompson & Partners Solicitors, 77/79 High Street, Wood Green, London. N22 6BB.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 07947 355231 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 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.
2. 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 Practice.
3. 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.
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.
6. 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