Suella Braverman and Priti Patel accuse churches of backing 'bogus' asylum claims

Former home secretaries Suella Braverman and Priti Patel have accused British churches of supporting “bogus” asylum claims.

The former top Tories both spoke out in the Sunday Telegraph after the well-documented case of suspected Clapham attacker Abdul Ezedi.

The 35-year-old former Afghani national had two claims for British asylum turned down before he claimed his adopted Christianity left him vulnerable to persecution.

This led to his third application being accepted although it is currently unknown who backed up his claim to have changed religion.

Ms Braverman, now a backbench MP, said that during her time in Cabinet she “became aware of churches around the country facilitating industrial-scale bogus asylum claims”.

Abdul Ezedi remains at large after four days (Metropolitan Police)
Abdul Ezedi remains at large after four days (Metropolitan Police)

She said: “Attend mass once a week for a few months, befriend the vicar, get your baptism date in the diary and, bingo, you’ll be signed off by a member of clergy that you’re now a God-fearing Christian who will face certain persecution if removed to your Islamic country of origin. It has to stop.”

Ms Braverman was sacked in November after she was accused of stoking community tensions in her allegations about the Metropolitan Police.

Dame Priti, home secretary from 2019-2022, echoed the comments and pointed to the example of Liverpool Women’s Hospital bomber Emad Jamil Al Swealmeen.

Al Swealmeen had been confirmed at Liverpool Cathedral in 2017 but detonated the car bomb in 2021.

Witham MP Dame Priti added: “In that particular case [Al Swealmeen] and any other examples where Christian conversion is involved it is right that those cases are scrutinised and that there is a degree of honesty in establishments, including the Church of England as to what their motivations were.

“It’s no coincidence that religious leaders are constantly speaking out against any reforms and work introduced by us as Conservatives in this area.”

In the case of Ezedi, it is not known who approved his asylum or which church he attended with the Church of England saying there is no record of him on their books.

A Church of England spokesman said: “It is the role of the Home Office, and not the church, to vet asylum seekers and judge the merits of their individual cases.”