19 February 2020
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of E to the Crown Court.
Mr E was convicted in May 2006 after he pleaded guilty at Harlow Magistrates’ Court to using a false instrument with intent (contrary to section 3 and 6 Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981). He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.
He could not appeal against his conviction because there is no right to appeal following a guilty plea in a magistrates’ court.
Mr E, an Iranian national, was arrested after he arrived at Stansted Airport and presented a false French identity document (the false instrument). He eventually admitted that the document was false and sought to claim asylum.
The Home Office eventually granted Mr E five years’ leave to remain in the UK and he has since become a naturalised UK citizen. He applied to the CCRC in 2017.
Having reviewed the case in detail, the Commission has concluded that there is a real possibility that Mr E’s conviction will not be upheld if referred to Chelmsford Crown Court on the basis of new evidence and new argument indicating that Mr E would now have a statutory defence under section 31 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 in relation to the charge of using a false identity document with intent.
It is the Commission’s view that, in those circumstances, the Crown Court will conclude that to allow his guilty plea to stand would be an affront to justice and that therefore there is a real possibility the Court will allow him to vacate his guilty plea and enter a not guilty plea, and that he would either not be prosecuted, or would be acquitted at the rehearing of the case.
Mr E was not represented during his application to the CCRC.
This press release was issued by Justin Hawkins, Head of Communication, Criminal Cases Review Commission, on 0121 633 1806 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 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 13 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 1,400 applications for reviews (convictions and/or sentences) each year. Since starting work in 1997, the CCRC has referred around 3% of applications 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