Criminal Cases Review Commission
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Court quashes conviction of Syrian asylum seeker

The conviction of a man who fled Syria and claimed asylum in the UK has been quashed by the Crown Court, after being referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).  

Mr B arrived at Heathrow airport in April 2015, after leaving Syria due to a requirement to join the army, and feared persecution if returned.  

He arrived in the UK without a valid immigration document, he was arrested and later pleaded guilty at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court to an offence under the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004.  

The CCRC review of the case identified that Mr B had a statutory defence under section 2 of the 2004 act, namely a ‘reasonable excuse’ for failing to produce an immigration document. 

It is likely this defence would have been successful if he had been advised of its existence.  

The Crown Court allowed the appeal on 8 March 2024, after the CCRC referred the case on 26 January 2024.  

Notes to Editors:  

  1. This release has been anonymised due to the nature of Mr B’s claim for asylum.  
  2. The CCRC 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.     
  3. There are currently 10 Commissioners who bring to the CCRC considerable experience from a wide variety of backgrounds. Commissioners are appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Prime Minister in accordance with the Office for the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ Code of Practice.  The Chairman, who is also a Commissioner, is not involved in the casework decision-making process.  
  4. The CCRC 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.     
  5. The CCRC considers whether, as a result of new information or a new argument on a point of law, there is a real possibility that the sentence would not be upheld were a reference to be made. New information or argument on a point of law is argument or information which has not been raised during the original sentence hearing or on appeal.  Applicants should usually have appealed first. A sentence can be referred in the absence of an earlier appeal only if there are “exceptional circumstances”.     
  6. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the sentence is unfair.     
  7. More details about the role and work of the Criminal Cases Review Commission can be found at The CCRC can be found on Twitter @ccrcupdate.  
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