The Bishop of Chelmsford has refuted accusations that the church has facilitated “bogus asylum claims” as stated by the former home secretary Suella Braverman.
Writing in the Telegraph, Guli Francis-Dehqani defended the role of clergy in supporting “the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society – including asylum seekers” after claims that some migrants convert to Christianity to advance their asylum applications.
Accusations came after a mother and two children were attacked with a corrosive liquid in southwest London, last week. Suspect Abdul Ezedi has been reported as being supported by churches in his claim for asylum, on the grounds of conversion to Christianity, after the Home Office rejected two previous claims for asylum.
Following the attack, former immigration minister Robert Jenrick spoke of "spurious" claims of migrants converting to Christianity "aided and abetted by often well-meaning but naive vicars and priests", while Suella Braverman said she "became aware of churches around the country facilitating industrial-scale bogus asylum claims" during her time in office.
Bishop Guli, who entered England as an Iranian refugee, labelled the accusation that an asylum seeker “may be fast-tracked through the asylum system, aided and abetted by the Church” as “simply inaccurate”.
“Churches have no power to circumvent the Government’s duty to vet and approve applications – the responsibility for this rests with the Home Office,”she added.
The bishop emphasised the importance of Christian leaders supporting those in need and rejected any link between the abuse of the asylum system and the action of bishops in Parliament.
“It is saddening to see this being implied by former holders of senior ministerial office, who have had opportunity but not sought to raise these concerns with senior clergy before,” She added.
The Home Office has revealed it does not collect data on the number of migrants who are granted asylum on religious grounds.