Criminal Cases Review Commission
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‘No passport’ case sent to Crown Court

The CCRC yesterday referred a case involving failure to have an immigration document at an asylum interview to the Crown Court. 

Ms D entered the UK at Heathrow Airport in March 2011 and immediately claimed asylum but did not have a passport with her. She told the UK Border Agency (UKBA) that she had fled Iran in fear of political persecution.  

The UKBA did not accept her account and she was refused asylum or humanitarian protection.  
A few days later, Ms D pleaded guilty in a Magistrates’ Court to the ‘no passport’ offence. She was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment. 

However, in July 2011, after further interviews, she was granted asylum. She has since been given indefinite leave to remain in the UK. 
In July 2021 Ms D applied to the CCRC for a review of her conviction. 

Although Ms D pleaded guilty at a Magistrates’ Court, against her legal representative’s advice, she explained in her application to the CCRC that she had done so shortly after the UKBA had rejected her account of her departure from Iran and refused her asylum claim. At that time, she believed magistrates would rely on the UKBA conclusions to find her guilty of the ‘no passport’ offence, and that she would lose any credit for pleading guilty.  

The CCRC believes there is a real possibility that the Crown Court will find that Ms D had a reasonable excuse for not having a passport with her when she arrived at Heathrow Airport, and there is a real possibility that her conviction will be quashed.  

Notes to Editors:  

  1. The CCRC has decided to anonymise this press release on the basis that there are safeguarding concerns in respect of Ms D.  
  1. The CCRC is an independent body set up under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995. It is responsible for independently investigating 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.     
  1.  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.      
  1. The CCRC usually receives around 1,500 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.     
  1. The CCRC 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”.     
  1. If a case is referred, it is then for the appeal court to decide whether the conviction is unsafe or the sentence unfair.     
  1. 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 and Instagram the_ccrc
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