Liverpool bomber 'exploited' Britain's broken asylum system before attempt to blow up hospital

TAXI suicide bomber Emad Al-Swealmeen was able to use Britain’s broken asylum process for seven years before his attempt to blow up a hospital.

And last night Priti Patel said the case was a “complete reflection of how dysfunctional and how broken the system has been in the past”.

The Home Secretary insisted the circumstances leading up to Sunday’s atrocity, when Al-Swealmeen, 32, triggered his device outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital, highlighted “the type of changes that I want to bring forward”.

Ms Patel, speaking as she flew to Washington DC, said: “It’s a complete merry-go-round and it has been exploited. A whole sort of professional legal services industry has based itself on rights of appeal, going to the courts day-in day-out at the expense of the taxpayers through legal aid. That is effectively what we need to change.”

Ms Patel added: “These people have come to our country and abused British values, abused the values of the fabric of our country and our society.

“And as a result of that, there’s a whole industry that thinks it’s right to defend these individuals that cause the most appalling crimes against British citizens, devastating their lives, blighting communities — and that is completely wrong.”

Senior MPs vowed to launch a ­formal probe into fake Christian converts duping the Church of England to avoid being deported back to strict Muslim countries.

Al-Swealmeen had been locked in an asylum row with the Home Office since 2014 but his claim was rejected with no grounds of appeal in 2017. That was the year he became a Christian, but he was not deported.

'Playing the religious card'

Those who knew him have claimed he had been sectioned due to some mental health incident where he was waving a knife at people from an overpass — and this was a possible reason for his bid being denied.

But other asylum seekers have been accused of “playing the religious card” to stay in the UK. Liverpool Cathedral’s own clergyman the Rev Mohammad Eghtedarian had raised the alarm in 2016 that “plenty of people” were pretending to convert to help their case for staying in Britain.

He said then: “There are many people abusing the system — I’m not ashamed of saying that. People are desperate for a better life and sometimes they will lie for it, that’s understandable.”

A year later, Al-Swealmeen was christened at the same church. And it appears that he was helped innocently by devoted Christians Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchott, a Liverpool couple, to convert from Islam. He was believed to be a ­Jordanian national who spent much of his life in Iraq before moving to the North West of England.

Christian converts are persecuted across the Middle East, and face death if caught, meaning the threat can be used to boost an application to stay in the UK. But former ministers, MPs and campaigners yesterday said the ­Government is not doing enough.

Tim Loughton, a senior Tory MP on the Home Affairs Select Committee, warned: “There is a worrying new development where it appears certain asylum seekers are playing the religious card to avoid deportation to certain countries.”

There is a worrying new development where it appears certain asylum seekers are playing the religious card to avoid deportation to certain countries.

And he vowed to launch a Commons investigation into the loophole, saying: “This is gaming the system and something we must look into.”

He added: “There are very serious questions to be asked about how this man could claim asylum after coming from a safe country and why he was still at liberty seven years on and free to commit this atrocity.”

Fellow committee member Labour’s Andrew Gwynne said: This attack does raise big questions for this Home Secretary and her predecessors, who have all talked tough on returning failed asylum seekers and tackling foreign nationals who commit crimes in this country.”

Alp Mehmet, chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “This is a ­seriously worrying case, which could be the tip of the iceberg.

“It points to the dysfunctional depths into which our shattered ­asylum system has sunk. Why this person was not removed or detained having been denied asylum is utterly baffling. We need to know.”

Last night Liverpool Bishop Cyril Ashton admitted he had conducted the dead terrorist’s confirmation.

Why this person was not removed or detained having been denied asylum is utterly baffling. We need to know.

He added: “The church takes confirmation seriously and I know that he would have been thoroughly ­prepared with an understanding of the Christian faith. It seems that, sadly, despite this grounding, the bomber chose a ­different path for his life.”

Downing Street said: “We want to take steps to speed up the removal of those with no right to be in the UK and streamline the appeals and judicial process which can be used to frustrate removal.

“Clearly we think the approach needs to be improved. It’s something the Home Secretary is focused on.”

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