Commission refers the human trafficking related case of GB to the Court of Appeal.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred to the Court of Appeal the false passport conviction of GB.

Ms B was arrested after she presented a false UK passport to an immigration officer at Gatwick Airport as she tried to catch a flight to Canada.

After receiving legal advice, Ms B admitted in interview to being a Sudanese national and to using a false travel document to try to board a flight to Canada.

In May 2008 at Lewes Crown Court, she pleaded guilty to an offence under section 25(1)(a) of the Identity Cards Act 2006 and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.

Following her arrest in 2008, during the interview under caution in which she admitted the offence, Ms B also revealed that she had left Sudan for Ethiopia in 2006; was offered employment in Italy but when she travelled there, under arrangements made by the “employers”, she was made to work as a prostitute. She became pregnant and wanted to leave but was beaten. With help, she eventually managed to escape from her “employers” and she was arrested whilst attempting to flee to Canada via the UK.

After the Home Office initially refused asylum to Ms B and her child (born in July 2008), she was eventually recognised by the First Tier Tribunal of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal and the Home Office as a victim of trafficking and, in December 2015, she and her child were granted asylum and leave to remain in the UK until 2021.

Ms B sought to appeal against her false passport conviction in 2012, but her appeal was dismissed. In November 2017, with the help of her solicitors, Ms B applied to the CCRC for a review of her conviction.

Having considered the case in detail, the Commission has decided to refer Ms B’s conviction to the Court of Appeal because it believes there is a real possibility that the Court will quash the conviction.

The referral is based on new evidence and on new legal argument that:

  • a change of law in the treatment of victims of trafficking was set out in the case R v GS [2018] EWCA crim 182
  • in light of that change of law, the Crown Prosecution Service, in accordance with their current guidance, and in light of the fresh evidence in Ms B’s case, would now conclude that it was not in the public interest to prosecute her
  • Ms B would suffer a substantial injustice if her conviction is upheld.

Ms B was represented in her application to the CCRC by Duncan Lewis

Solicitors, Spencer House, 29 Grove Hill Road, Harrow on the Hill, HA1 3BN.

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

Notes for editors

1.    The Commission is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently 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 eight 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.

6.    More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at www.ccrc.gov.uk The Commission can be found on Twitter using @ccrcupdate