Commission refers the conviction of Busani Zondo

The Commission has referred the conviction of Busani Zondo to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Zondo, a Zimbabwean national, pleaded guilty to possessing an improperly obtained false instrument with intent contrary to s25(1), (2) and (6) of the Identity Cards Act 2006 at Manchester Crown Court in March 2008. He was sentenced to ten months’ imprisonment.

He applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of his conviction in  August 2012.
Having considered the case, the Commission has decided to refer Mr Zondo’s conviction to Court of Appeal because it considers that there is a real possibility the Court will quash the conviction.

The referral is made on the basis that Mr Zondo, who was granted refugee status in 2013, took legal advice to plead guilty when in fact he was entitled to a defence under section 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 in circumstances where that defence would probably have succeeded.

This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 633 1806 or e-mail press@ccrc.gov.uk

Notes for editors

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. An article written by the Commission explaining the issues and the law in this area can be seen on the Law Society Gazette website.

The Commission has contacted numerous groups and organisations working with asylum seekers and immigrants in the UK in an attempt to raise awareness of the issues in these cases. We have also liaised with the Crown Prosecution Service to try to identify people who may have fallen foul of the law in this way.

  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.
  2. There are 10 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 receives around 1,000 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year.  Typically, around 4%, or one in 25, 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.