Clapham chemical attack suspect 'was in relationship with victim who suffered life-changing injuries'

3 February 2024, 11:02 | Updated: 3 February 2024, 15:17

Ezedi was allowed to stay in the UK despite a sexual assault conviction
Ezedi was allowed to stay in the UK despite a sexual assault conviction. Picture: Alamy/Metropolitan Police

By Will Taylor

The Clapham chemical attack suspect was in a relationship with the victim who has suffered life-changing injuries.

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Abdul Ezedi, 35, is being pursued by police after the mother, 31, and her two children were attacked with a corrosive substance in south London on Wednesday.

She was left with likely life-changing injuries.

Her children, aged eight and three, were also hurt but their injuries are not as serious.

A relative, who has remained anonymous, has Ezedi - now travelled down from Newcastle and is the subject of a nationwide manhunt - was in a relationship with the woman.

Read more: Decision to let Clapham attack suspect stay in UK 'was margin call influenced by his claim of becoming Christian'

"This isn't the man I know, I don't believe he would do that kind of thing," they said.

The relative said they wanted to "find out if he is alive or dead" and was "worried" about him.

New images released by police show a visible facial injury after the alkaline attack, which left a total of 12 people injured.

"His injury is very bad and he needs medical attention," the relative, who is in London, told Sky News.

"I will bring him in by myself if I have to."

Police released new images of Ezedi on Friday
Police released new images of Ezedi on Friday. Picture: Metropolitan Police

The decision to allow Ezedi to stay in the UK was a "margin call" likely influenced by his claimed conversion to Christianity - and ministers are launching a review into how he was allowed to stay in the UK.

He was convicted of a sexual assault and twice denied asylum by the Home Office after arriving from Afghanistan.

Yet he was ultimately granted approval to stay when an immigration tribunal heard he had converted to Christianity and a priest vouched he was completely committed to it.

A source told The Times the decision to allow him to remain was "margin call" thought to have been swayed by that claimed conversion.

Read more: Chemical attacks happening 'almost weekly', Newcastle doctors warn amid manhunt for Clapham attack suspect

Ezedi is suspected of launching an attack in Clapham
Ezedi is suspected of launching an attack in Clapham. Picture: Alamy

Now, ministers are looking into why he was allowed to stay.

Home secretary James Cleverly has demanded to be shown all the details of his case.

Read more: Last known sighting of Clapham chemical attack suspect as police reveal 'significant evidence' found in raids

It has led to more criticism of the asylum system, with Ezedi having been smuggled into the UK in a lorry in 2016 - then gone on to be convicted of sexual assault and indecent exposure in 2018.

A senior Tory source said: "This is a terrible crime committed by someone who clearly should not have been in the UK.

"This is exactly why we are taking action to reform our asylum system and send illegal immigrants to Rwanda.

"Our new laws passed in the last two years mean serious criminals and illegal immigrants will not be able to claim asylum and stay in the UK — all of which Labour has tried to block, with Sir Keir Starmer himself campaigning to stop the deportations of dangerous foreign criminals."

Rishi Sunak's spokesman said the prime minister does not "think that foreign criminals should be able to stay in the country".

And yesterday, David Johnston, the children and families minister, told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the government wants to end the "merry-go-round" of the asylum system.

"Too often people in the public have seen people be able to frustrate the legal system, keep making legal appeals, eventually claim asylum where it's very unclear that they shouldn’t have been allowed to," he said.

He insisted the Rwanda plan would "remove the ability for people to make endless legal appeals".