The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Mr S to the Court of Appeal.
Mr S, an Iranian national, arrived at Manchester Airport in February 2009 on a flight from Brussels. He approached an immigration officer and presented a Danish passport. Home Office checks showed that the passport had been reported as lost or stolen in March 2006.
Mr S admitted that the passport was not his. He told immigration officials that he had left Iran five months earlier and he had travelled through several countries using various false passports provided by agents to whom he had paid thousands of Euros in order to help him leave Iran. He said he was fleeing the country because he believed the authorities there were looking for him in connection with a public demonstration in July 2008 at which he burnt an Iranian flag, and because of his father’s political activities.
Mr S was arrested and subsequently charged with possessing a false identity document with intent contrary to section 25(1) of the Identity Cards Act 2006. On the advice of a solicitor he pleaded guilty at Manchester Crown Court in March 2009 and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.
In 2012, the Home Office granted him refugee status with five years’ leave to remain. He applied to the Commission for a review of his conviction in August 2013.
Having reviewed the case in detail, the Commission has decided to refer Mr S’s conviction to the Court of Appeal because it considers that the there is a real possibility that the Court will quash his conviction. The referral is made on the basis that Mr S had a statutory defence available to him under section 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to the charge of possession of a false identity document with intent 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.