All Articles: Criminal offences

Last week we published a briefing on the legal changes to the criminalisation of people seeking asylum in the UK and a new report “No Such Thing as Justice Here” looks at the impact these changes have had in practice. The report is published by the Centre for Criminology at the...

27th February 2024
BY Sonia Lenegan

Although now largely eclipsed by the Illegal Migration Act 2023, the Nationality and Borders Act 2022’s legacy will be its criminalisation of the act of seeking asylum in the UK. This article aims to give an overview of the changes to the law. Entry vs arrival By way of background,...

22nd February 2024
BY Larry Lock

On 1 February 2023 Mr Justice Cavanagh made a ruling, following a preparatory hearing on 14 and 15 December 2022, that asylum seekers can be prosecuted for arriving in the UK without valid entry clearance and for assisting unlawful immigration, contrary to sections 24(D1) and 25(1) of the Immigration Act 1971 respectively. On 2 March […]

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6th March 2023
BY Aneurin Brewer

On 1 February 2023, the Court of Appeal heard an appeal against a preliminary ruling that asylum seekers can be prosecuted for arriving in the UK without a valid entry clearance. The case is R v. Mohamed and others. The appeal was brought on behalf of four Sudanese defendants who...

7th February 2023
BY David Suber

Those following the law around the prosecution of arrival in small boats may be interested in the ruling from the preparatory hearing in R v Mohamed and others. The purpose of the hearing was to provide a clear ruling on points of law that are likely to arise time again...

10th January 2023
BY Josie Laidman

In Elmi [2022] EWCA Crim 1428, the Court of Appeal quashed the conviction of a failed asylum seeker who had been found guilty of possessing a false identity document. Elmi had not been advised that he could use the defence of a presumptive refugee under s.31 of the Immigration and...

14th November 2022
BY Joseph Sinclair

The Court of Appeal has granted an application made by a woman who was trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation, to quash her conviction from November 2009. She was convicted for using a false identity document when attempting to travel to the Netherlands after she had fled her traffickers....

27th October 2022
BY Jed Pennington

When the footballer Mario Balotelli’s house was on fire, the first person he called was his agent. Who, quite predictably, told him to phone the fire brigade. As an immigration lawyer I have received less dramatic phone calls. Yet the story resonates with me. For those we help to enter and stay in...

15th August 2022
BY Joseph Sinclair

The High Court in COL v Director of Public Prosecutions [2022] EWHC 601 (Admin) has taken the Crown Prosecution Service to task for its decision not to charge the alleged traffickers of a victim of modern slavery. The claimant, a national of the Philippines and a domestic worker, was confirmed as...

30th March 2022
BY Larry Lock

The Court of Appeal has quashed the convictions of three asylum seekers jailed for between two and six years for assisting unlawful immigration after piloting small boats across the English Channel. The case is Bani v The Crown [2021] EWCA Crim 1958. The heavy lifting was done in the earlier...

22nd December 2021
BY CJ McKinney

In a previous briefing we saw that customary international law, four international conventions and international human rights law all impose a duty on states to rescue those in distress at sea and to set up and maintain search and rescue services. We also saw that the enforceability of international law...

11th October 2021
BY Colin Yeo

Part 3 of the Nationality and Borders Bill 2021 includes provisions relating to immigration offences and enforcement. It criminalises arriving in the UK, as well as formally entering, making it almost impossible to claim asylum in the UK without first committing a criminal offence. People helping asylum seekers get to...

14th July 2021
BY Iain Halliday

“Illegal immigration to be turned into a criminal offence in landmark borders bill”, the Sunday Express reports. The idea that unauthorised immigration is insufficiently criminalised will surprise legislators who have spent much of the past two decades piling dozens and dozens of new immigration offences onto the statute books. “Illegal...

5th July 2021
BY CJ McKinney

The scenes in Glasgow last week, which saw a crowd prevent Immigration Enforcement from making off with two Indian men, got us thinking about the criminal offence of obstructing an immigration officer. Not, we hasten to add, because we think anyone should face charges over what’s seen in many quarters...

18th May 2021
BY CJ McKinney

Note: this article refers to the position prior to the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, see here for the current position. On 13 May 2021, my client Fouad Kakaei was unanimously acquitted of assisting unlawful immigration at his retrial following a successful appeal against conviction, the reporting restriction for which...

17th May 2021
BY Aneurin Brewer

Fouad Kakaei is an Iranian man who helped steer small boats carrying asylum seekers across the English Channel on two separate occasions, in July and December 2019. He also attempted to cross on several other occasions. Following the July 2019 crossing, he did not claim asylum here in the UK...

14th May 2021
BY Colin Yeo

In recent years the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) has displayed a willingness to allow late appeals and quash historic convictions to address injustice against victims of human trafficking. This includes using the common law to protect the rights of trafficking victims convicted of immigration offences before the statutory defence...

10th February 2020
BY Alex Schymyck

In Idahosa v R [2019] EWCA Crim 1953 the Court of Appeal has ruled that an asylum seeker who had stopped over in the United Kingdom for 54 days en route to Canada can rely on the exception to false documents offences available to refugees. The court took a purposive...

20th November 2019
BY Alex Schymyck

O v R [2019] EWCA Crim 1389 is the latest of a series of appeals brought by victims of trafficking against historic convictions. In this case the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) decided to quash a 2008 conviction because the prosecution had not even considered whether bringing O to court...

14th August 2019
BY Alex Schymyck

The Court of Appeal has given judgment in two linked cases involving victims of trafficking prosecuted in the UK for offences linked to their trafficking: N v R [2019] EWCA Crim 752. In one of the cases, involving a young Vietnamese man prosecuted for cannabis cultivation, the conviction was overturned. In...

14th May 2019
BY Colin Yeo

MK and Gega v R [2018] EWCA Crim 667 is about who should face the burden of proof when a criminal defendant relies on the new “victim of slavery/trafficking” defence in the Modern Slavery Act 2015. In the first appellate judgment on this issue, the Court of Appeal has ruled...

9th April 2018
BY Alex Schymyck

Shortly after Christmas in 2009, a young woman from Somalia flew into Stanstead and claimed asylum. She had just turned 18. As later accepted by the Home Office, she had experienced severe depredations in her home country. This included her rape at the age of six in the presence of...

26th April 2017
BY nicknason

The Home Office has imposed fines on small businesses for employing illegal workers of over £14 million in just a three month period. The period covered is January to March 2016. The list of businesses targeted by officials appears to include mainly small ethnic minority shops and takeaways. It is...

6th September 2016
BY Colin Yeo

In yet another example of a refugee who was not properly advised on his defence to a prosecution for illegal entry, Shabani, Re [2015] EWCA Crim 1924 (22 July 2015), the Lord Chief Justice has overturned the conviction but this time has also referred the solicitors responsible for investigation by...

14th December 2015
BY Colin Yeo

In a very interesting judgment the Canadian Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional the criminal offence of organising, inducing, aiding or abetting undocumented entry. The case is R. v. Appulonappa – SCC Cases (Lexus). This post reviews that case and then goes on to consider whether similar reasoning might here in the...

11th December 2015
BY Colin Yeo

In the absence of legal means by which to enter countries of sanctuary, refugees resort to the use of irregular means of entry. Some will falsely apply for and obtain a visit or student visa and then apply for asylum once within the UK. Others will use clandestine means to enter...

11th August 2015
BY Colin Yeo

Omenma (Conditional discharge – not a conviction of an offence) [2014] UKUT 314 (IAC) is an interesting case for two reasons. Firstly, the Home Office accepted that the decision was wrong and withdrew it. Nevertheless, because the case had reached the Upper Tribunal, the withdrawal of decision did not automatically deprive...

18th July 2014
BY Colin Yeo

In another highly critical report on immigration enforcement by the Home Office, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine has found that in nearly two thirds of cases (59%) immigration enforcement officers entering business premises lacked the legal authority to do so and in addition were regularly flouting their...

26th March 2014
BY Colin Yeo

Immigration Minister Mark Harper has resigned from the Government because in 2007 he employed a cleaner who did not have permission to work. Harper claims that he has not broken the law but is resigning because “I should hold myself to a higher standard than expected of others”. The first part...

8th February 2014
BY Colin Yeo

In R (on the application of P (DRC) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2013] EWHC 3879 (Admin), handed down on 9 December 2013, Mr Justice Philips held that P would be at risk of treatment in breach of Article 3 of the ECHR if deported to the...

10th December 2013
BY Abigail Smith

Child abduction is a criminal offence. It requires covert departure from the UK to another country, and from the abductor’s point of view preferably one that is not in Europe, not a signatory to the Hague Convention and that does not have a bilateral agreement with the UK. The incredibly...

24th October 2013
BY Colin Yeo

Refugees fleeing persecution in their home country cannot afford to be scrupulous about the means by which they reach sanctuary in another country. This truism was recognised by the drafters of the Refugee Convention: Article 31 affords refugees protection from prosecution for unlawful entry to a sanctuary state providing certain...

5th August 2013
BY Colin Yeo

Finally, there has been a breakthrough in cases where victims of trafficking find themselves prosecuted and convicted here in the UK for engaging in the very activity into which the victim was forced. It may seem strange that it is the victims of trafficking that have ended up with criminal...

24th June 2013
BY Colin Yeo

Recently the Law Society Gazette ran an article by Yewa Holiday, a barrister and a case review manager at the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which highlighted the plight of asylum seekers and refugees wrongly convicted after being advised to plead guilty to offences relating to their entry to the UK,...

9th August 2012
BY Samina Iqbal
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