‘Lefty lawyers’ criticised after documents reveal why Clapham attacker was granted asylum

A minister has hit out at “credulous clerics” and “lefty lawyers” after documents seen by Sky News revealed how the Clapham chemical attacker Abdul Ezedi was granted asylum after he was baptised.

Science minister Andrew Griffith said Ezedi, who attacked a woman and two children with an alkali in London earlier this year, should not have been able to enter the UK illegally and remain here after being vouched for by a priest.

Home Secretary James Cleverly has summoned the “vast majority” of Christian churches to “relay the potential damage” of “being seen, rightly or wrongly, as acting against the integrity of our asylum system, where Christian conversion has been brought up at appeal”, a source close to him said.

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Minister blames ‘credulous clerics’ and ‘loophole lawyers’

Ezedi, who was from Afghanistan, had twice been refused asylum by the Home Office after arriving in the UK on the back of a lorry in 2016.

The second refusal was overturned by a judge in an appeal hearing in October 2020 because of Ezedi’s claim to have converted to Christianity. A suggestion that he would be at risk of persecution if he returned to Afghanistan was supported by a vicar.

A huge search operation was launched for Ezedi after the attack on 31 January, with CCTV images showing serious injuries to his face. His body was recovered from the River Thames a few weeks later.

Mr Griffith told Kay Burley on Breakfast: “We can’t run an asylum system based on credulous clerics and lefty lawyers.

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“That is why we are fundamentally reforming it.”

Challenged on what he meant by “credulous clerics”, Mr Griffith said: “To be credulous is not to be, you know, diligent and inquiring and accept that this could be something that is being faked for that purpose.

“And we know, we know about this particular case, but we do know that there are loophole lawyers that are grooming people…”

Mr Griffith initially stuck by his use of the word “grooming” before agreeing that “coaching” was a “better word”.

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Abdul Ezedi
Abdul Ezedi

A source close to the home secretary said the consequences of Ezedi having his asylum case approved were “appalling”.

“That reputational risk is only amplified by the fact some who denied knowledge of Ezedi at the time had in fact known of him within their church, and had supported and vouched for him.”

As well as the documents coming to light, Sky News has also obtained pictures of Ezedi, who was also a convicted sex offender, being baptised in church.

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Mr Griffith highlighted how Ezedi had not originally claimed asylum on the grounds of his religion and said the government’s Safety of Rwanda Bill – which will see certain migrants deported to the east African country – would help prevent similar cases arising again.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the latest revelations about Ezedi raise “some serious and urgent questions for the Home Office”.

“The home secretary must explain why his department failed to remove Ezedi from the UK in the two years after his first asylum claim was rejected – particularly after he was convicted of sexual offences.”


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