Meanwhile, a trawl of previous appeal hearings reveals the extent to which asylum seekers use religion and other tactics as a means of asking for the right to remain in the UK.
In a 2020 ruling, a 23-year-old Iranian man who arrived in the UK in 2014 claimed asylum because he “faced the death penalty” after being filmed on CCTV urinating on a mosque after drinking alcohol.
Then just 15, he said he went to a party before tending his pigeons on a roof near the mosque, before losing control of his bladder.
The judge wrote: “I do not accept that it would be possible for the appellant to urinate for such a distance, and with such accuracy so as to hit the door to the mosque, three to four meters away, from three stories up.”
However, the man was allowed to stay because he had now converted from Islam to Christianity, after attending the Alpha course at a Belfast church.
Another successful appeal that year saw another man, again granted anonymity, claim his conversion would have meant he would have been an “apostate” if returned to Iran.
The ruling hinged on the evidence of a clergyman from the Iranian Christian Fellowship, who insisted the man was a “committed” convert to Christianity after attending an Alpha course.
The asylum seeker “publicised” his new faith on Facebook, something the London tribunal heard had been spotted by the Iranian authorities and led to his father’s arrest.
In a Bradford case from 2019, an Iranian man, named only as Saman H, had his appeal against being barred from the UK thrown out because his apparent conversion to Christianity coincided with him being jailed for producing cannabis.
A pastor from an unnamed Doncaster church told the hearing that although he was aware some asylum seekers would “seek to pull the wool over my eyes”, the man was baptised after attending the Alpha course.
The priest said he was “gutted” when he learned of the man’s conviction, adding he wished he had “approached the church for help”.
The judge believed the Iranian man was a “practised liar … willing to deceive” the clergyman, adding how the procedures adopted by the Doncaster church before granting a baptism “are plainly fallible”.