An MP has called for an inquiry into how the Liverpool bomber was allowed to stay in the UK for more than six years after his asylum claim was dismissed.
The Home Office has “serious questions” to answer about how Emad Al Swealmeen’s case was handled, and Home Secretary Priti Patel should investigate “what went wrong”, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael said.
It comes after previously confidential court documents, obtained following legal representations by BBC News, supported by the PA news agency, and The Times, disclosed more detail about the 32-year-old’s failed asylum attempts and the false information he used to make his case.
Iraqi-born Al Swealmeen died from the blast and subsequent fire after his homemade bomb detonated in a taxi outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital shortly before 11am on November 14.
The driver managed to escape and no-one else was hurt.
The inquest into his death heard he bought 2,000 ball bearings and rented a “bomb-making factory” to manufacture a device with “murderous intent”.
Al Swealmeen had falsely claimed to be of Syrian heritage in asylum applications.
He came to the UK in May 2014 legally, with a Jordanian passport and UK visa, but his asylum claim was rejected, a coroner’s court heard last month.
He challenged the Home Office decision by lodging an appeal with the First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) but this was dismissed in 2015, newly obtained court documents show.
Mr Carmichael told PA: “The Home Office has serious questions to answer over how this case was handled. Why was this man still in the UK years after his appeal was rejected, allowing him to commit this appalling terrorist attack?
“No wonder public confidence in the asylum system is so low. Despite all the tough rhetoric, the Government is failing to remove people who have no right to be here.
“It’s time for Priti Patel to get a grip. She should hold an inquiry into what went wrong in this case and fix the system so it cannot happen again.”
Why was this man still in the UK years after his appeal was rejected, allowing him to commit this appalling terrorist attack?Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael
In the copy of the ruling, dated April 16 2015, the judge noted there were “a number of problems” with his evidence and, considering Al Swealmeen’s credibility, said: “I find that the appellant has attempted to give an account to put himself in the best light.
“In view of all the evidence, I reject his account of events in Syria and his fears on his return in their entirety, and dismiss his asylum appeal.”
Born in Baghdad, he had been in prison in the Middle East for a serious assault, as well as being convicted previously in Liverpool of possession of an offensive weapon.
Al Swealmeen was still a practising Muslim despite converting to Christianity once in the UK, the coroner’s court was told.
He lived at Home Office-provided accommodation in Sutcliffe Street, in the Kensington area of Liverpool, but since April had rented a self-contained flat in Rutland Avenue, the inquest heard.
Al Swealmeen is said to have submitted a fresh asylum claim under a new name in 2017, which was also rejected by the end of 2020.
Officials confirmed that in January last year he had launched another first-tier tribunal appeal which was still outstanding at the time of the attack.
The Home Office has repeatedly refused to answer questions about the case or explain why Al Swealmeen was not removed from the UK once his asylum claim, and subsequent appeal, was rejected.
When contacted by PA, the department said it was “fixing the broken asylum system” and that the “new plan for immigration will require people to raise all protection-related issues up front to tackle the practice of making multiple and sequential claims and enable the removal of those with no right to be in our country more quickly”.
A spokesman would not comment on whether the Home Office was carrying out an internal inquiry, or conducting any investigations, into how the case was handled.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are obviously taking steps more broadly to speed up the removal of those with no right to be in the UK and to streamline the appeals and judicial process which can be used to frustrate removal” but added that he could not comment further while the police investigation continued.