Commission refers the conviction of Mr V for appeal at the Crown Court

The Criminal Cases Review Commission has referred the conviction of Mr V for appeal at the Crown Court.

Mr V, a Sudanese national, arrived at Heathrow Airport on 24 May 2006 and approached an immigration officer to say he was seeking entry to the United Kingdom because he was wanted by the Sudanese Government and was in fear of his life.

In interview Mr V explained he was fleeing Sudan and the Sudanese Government because he was an active member of the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement. He said he headed for the UK because he considered it a “safe county” and had travelled using a British passport he bought in Chad for $500 US.

On 26 May 2006, Mr V appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court  charged with failing to produce a satisfactory immigration document contrary to section 2(1) Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004. He pleaded guilty, having been advised to do so by his legal representative, and was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment.

Mr V claimed asylum on arrival in the UK. On 3 August 2006, just over two months after conviction, he was granted refugee status with five years’ leave to remain. In 2011 he was granted  indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

When Mr V applied for naturalisation as a British Citizen in 2012 he was refused because of the conviction described above.  He applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission for a review of that conviction in September 2013.

Having conducted a detailed review of the case, the Commission has decided to refer Mr V’s conviction for appeal at the Crown Court (see notes).

The referral is made on the basis that Mr V had a reasonable excuse for not producing a genuine immigration document (pursuant to section 2(4)(c) of the Immigration and Asylum (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004). The Commission therefore considers there is a real possibility that the Crown Court will conclude that, in all the circumstances, it should set aside Mr V’s guilty plea and not uphold his conviction on the basis that he was deprived of a defence that was likely to succeed.

Mr V was not legally represented in his application to the Commission.

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

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 at:

www.lawgazette.co.uk/in-practice/practice-points/ccrc-concern-over-advice-given-refugees

A reference by the Commission in relation to a magistrates’ court conviction results in an appeal by way of a re-hearing at the Crown Court.

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.
  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.