Commission refers the case of Mr X to the Court of Appeal

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Mr X to the Court of Appeal.

Mr X, A Zimbabwean national, arrived at Manchester Airport in November 2007 and presented a false passport to the authorities. He immediately admitted that the passport was not his and said he wished to claim asylum.

Mr X said the false passport had been provided by the agent he had paid to help him escape from Zimbabwe where he said he was under pressure from the Government to inform against members of the Movement for Democratic Change and said his life would be in danger for refusing.

Mr X was charged on 19th November 2007 with having a false passport contrary to section 25(1) of the Identity Cards Act 2006.

On the advice of a solicitor he pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court on 27 November and was sentence to eight months’ imprisonment.

Mr X was granted asylum in August 2008.

Having considered the case in detail, the Commission has decided to refer Mr X’s conviction to the Court of Appeal.

The referral is made on the basis that he should have been entitled to rely on the statutory defence available under section 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to the charge of possessing a false identity documents with intent.

The Commission therefore believes there is a real possibility that the Court will conclude that, in all the circumstances, the statutory defence probably would have succeeded and that it should be set aside Mr X’s guilty plea and quash his conviction.

Mr X was not legally represented in his application to the Commission.

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:

www.lawgazette.co.uk/in-practice/practice-points/ccrc-concern-over-advice-given-refugees

and at: www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/ccrc-concern-over-advice-given-to-refugees/66102.fullarticle 

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 232 0906 or e-mail

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.