Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED June 26, 2003

Sentences of 12 months for obtaining leave to remain in the UK by deception were not manifestly excessive. Given the level of abuse of the UK asylum system by false claims, sentences needed to have a deterrent effect.Appeals, with leave of the single judge, against sentences of 12 months imposed on each defendant at Ipswich Crown Court, on various dates in April 2003, following pleas of guilty to obtaining leave to remain in the UK by deception. All the defendants were Iraqi Kurds who entered the UK and claimed asylum on the basis they were either persecuted or feared persecution in Iraq. All their claims were rejected which meant the defendants were no longer eligible for financial and housing support from the asylum support team or from the Home Office. As a result the defendants went to Folkestone and made new asylum claims using false names. The defendants were recognised and arrested. In each case when sentencing, the judges took into account the prevalence of this type of offence and the need to deter others from committing similar offences as held in R v Nasir Ali (2001) EWCA Crim 274. The defendants appeal against the sentences on the grounds that their cases should be distinguished from R v Nasir Ali(supra) because of the predicament they faced. Because asylum had been refused the defendants could not work lawfully in the UK, they were entitled to no financial help and could not be repatriated.HELD: (1) Asylum was available to those who genuinely feared persecution and unfortunately the system in the UK was abused. Attempts to enter the UK were understandable as the standard of life in the UK was so much better. The number of people abusing the system meant considerable resources were used trying to determine genuine claims. Whilst that happened it was the public who had to pay for the housing and financial support. If the false asylum claims of the defendants had been accepted they would have been afforded all help which they were not entitled to. (2) The abuse of the system was prejudicial to genuine asylum seekers with the result claims took much longer to deal with. The current need to photograph and fingerprint all asylum seekers highlighted the extent of deception. (3) There was no reason to distinguish R v Nasir Ali (supra) as these defendants were originally refused asylum and should therefore not have been in the UK anyway. Sentences had to have a deterrent effect and the sentences passed were appropriate.Appeals dismissed