Commission refers the conviction of T to the Court of Appeal

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

Mr T, an Iraqi national, arrived at Heathrow Airport in October 2007. He admitted that he did not have a passport and claimed asylum on the basis he had been kidnapped, tortured and feared for his life in Iraq.

Mr T said he had left Iraq in September 2007, travelled from there to Syria and then on to Turkey before flying to the UK. He said that an agent he paid to help him flee from Iraq had taken away his Iraqi passport.

Mr T was arrested and charged with failure to produce a satisfactory immigration document contrary to section 2(1) Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004.

Later in September, Mr T appeared at Isleworth Crown Court, where, after initially pleading not guilty, he pleaded guilty on advice from his solicitor. He was convicted and sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for one year.

In January 2008 the Home Office granted Mr T Humanitarian Protection with five years’ leave to remain in the UK on the basis that he faced a real risk of suffering serious harm if he was returned to Iraq.

He applied to the Commission for a review of his case in December 2012.

After a detailed review of the case, the Commission has decided to refer Mr T’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 2(4)(c) of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) etc. Act 2004; namely that he had a reasonable excuse for not producing a genuine immigration document.

The Commission therefore considers there is a real possibility that the Court will conclude that, in all the circumstances, it should allow Mr T to vacate his guilty plea on the basis that he was deprived of a defence that was likely to 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. 

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.