Commission refers the conviction of Elizabeth Joseph for appeal at the Crown Court

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction and sentence of Elizabeth Joseph to the Crown Court.

Ms Joseph was convicted in February 2008 at Stratford Magistrates’ Court of obstructing an officer in the execution of his duty, contrary to s47 Terrorism Act 2000, and of assaulting an officer in the execution of his duty, contrary to s89(1) of the Police Act 1996. In total, she received a Community Service Order of 60 hours.

Ms Joseph appealed unsuccessfully to Snaresbrook Crown Court in December 2008.


The Commission has decided to refer Ms Joseph’s conviction for obstruction, and sentence for assault, in light of new legal argument not previously raised in proceedings.


The conviction referral is based on new legal arguments, including that police officers conducting a search of Ms Joseph’s car were acting outside of the powers granted for this purpose under the Terrorism Act 2000. Also, case law has developed since Ms Joseph’s conviction. In Gillan & Quinton v United Kingdom, the powers afforded to police officers by s44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 were held to be in breach of a person’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.


Ms Joseph was also convicted of assault. The Commission has decided not to refer that conviction for appeal, but it has decided to refer the sentence for assault for appeal. The sentence is referred on the basis that, if Ms Joseph’s conviction for obstruction is quashed, the court may find it impossible to justify the sentence that she received for the assault conviction.


Ms Joseph’s conviction and sentence have been referred to Snaresbrook Crown Court.


Ms Joseph was assisted in her application to the Commission by Birnberg Peirce and Partners, 14 Inverness St, London NW1 7HJ.


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 Criminal Cases Review 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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.


  1. 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”.


  1. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.