Ezedi given asylum after saying he was Christian despite concerns he was a liar

Unseen images show the chemical attack suspect being baptised after converting to Christianity.

Abdul Ezedi’s immigration tribunal has revealed the extent of his asylum bid, as Martha Fairlie explains

Abdul Ezedi was granted asylum by a judge who accepted he was a Christian convert, despite concerns the sex offender was a liar, court records show.

Previously confidential documents, disclosed how the man police believe carried out the harrowing chemical attack in Clapham earlier this year was allowed to stay in the UK despite having a criminal conviction.

The documents include unseen images of Mr Ezedi being baptised, and handing out church leaflets in the street.

The rarely-made-public immigration tribunal court papers, obtained by media organisations after legal representations, laid bare the lengths the Afghan national went to evidence his religious conversion from Islam.

They showed how some of those who supported him during the process were aware of his crimes, with him even signing an agreement to be effectively escorted during church services as a result.

Mr Ezedi was pictured handing out church leaflets in the street / Credit: PA

Ezedi’s body was pulled from the River Thames last month after a major man hunt.

Police suspected him of dousing his ex-girlfriend with alkali, after an attacker allegedly pounced on her and her children, aged eight and three, in Clapham, south London, in January.

It later emerged Ezedi avoided jail for sexual assault charges in 2018, as his case sparked widespread debate about the role religion plays in determining asylum claims.

His story also raised questions over how the government and courts scrutinise the validity of evidence presented in asylum applications.

In a ruling dated November 10 2020, Judge WK O’Hanlon, sitting in the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), said: “Having considered all of the evidence before me in the round, notwithstanding my concerns as to the honesty of the appellant in relation to certain aspects of his account, I find that the appellant had been consistent in his evidence with regard to his conversion to Christianity.”

The documents were released on Tuesday after the court granted submissions from the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph, the Times, the BBC, The Independent and the PA news agency, who argued disclosure was in the public interest.

Ezedi arrived in the UK on January 8 2016 but his initial asylum claim was refused by the Home Office, with an appeal later rejected by the courts the following year, according to the documents.

He was handed a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court on January 9 2018 after pleading guilty to charges of sexual assault and exposure, instead being placed on the sex offender register for 10 years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Just over a year later, on March 19 2019, he challenged the decision again by lodging an appeal with the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber), arguing he feared persecution because of his religion.

The papers confirm his claim was granted after a hearing in Newcastle on October 28 2020.

Lawyers representing Ezedi argued he had “converted from Shia Islam to Christianity (Baptist).

“The punishment for this in sharia law which is practised in Afghanistan would be execution”, the documents said.

But, during proceedings, the Home Office’s legal team said the government department did not accept Ezedi’s conversion was “genuine and long-lasting”.

A Home Office spokesperson told ITV News: “All asylum claims are carefully considered on their individual merits in accordance with the Immigration Rules. This means that religious conversions do not guarantee a grant of asylum.”

We have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders to help us to improve our policy guidance, training for asylum decision-makers, and to ensure we approach claims involving religious conversion in the appropriate way.”

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