Citation – [2014] EWCA Crim 2933 (unreported / not on BAILII)

Date – 17th December 2014

Keywords – Conviction, s31, CCRC

Overview – Appeal against conviction following a guilty plea allowed.

Summary – S was an Iranian Christian apostate who left Iran and came to the UK via Turkey, Tanzania and Zambia. He flew to the UK on a false passport, arriving on 5th or 6th January 2012. Thereafter he bought a ticket to Canada (his original destination) and was arrested on 12th January 2012 whilst trying to leave the UK.

He was charged with using a false passport and pleaded guilty on 24th January, being sentenced to 12 months. He claimed asylum on 4th February.

He “was never properly or comprehensively advised about the potential defence which might be available to him” under s31. On a CCRC Reference, the CPS did not oppose the appeal. The immigration appeal was allowed in the First Tier Tribunal and it was held that it was not reasonable for S to have claimed asylum in the above three countries.

Comment – There is nothing new in the judgment by way of law, but it is good confirmation of how far things have moved since before Asfaw. Here, the Court said “It is important to appreciate that the purpose of section 31 is to embed in domestic law the protections provided by Article 31 of the Refugee Convention“, which is absolutely correct, but it is good to see this recognised.

Also, the Court were refreshingly quick to not only allow the appeal, but to say that they were “entirely satisfied that the defence under section 31 would have succeeded“. Considering the journey, the amount of time in the UK and the delay in claiming asylum, this reinforces how wide the s31 defence is.

Judges – Macur LJ, Blake & Dove JJ

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