Clapham chemical attack manhunt continues as police investigate 'significant' evidence

The search for a suspected chemical attacker has entered its third day as police follow up on "significant and important" evidence.

Police have urged Abdul Ezedi, 35, from the Newcastle area to hand himself in after going on the run following Wednesday's attack in Clapham, south London.

A 31-year-old mother, believed to be known to Ezedi, was attacked with a corrosive alkaline substance and remains "very poorly" in hospital, with her injuries thought to be "life-changing".

The injuries to her daughters, aged three and eight, are "not likely to be life-changing".

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Jon Savell, a Metropolitan Police commander, told reporters that during five searches carried out in east London and Newcastle, "significant and important pieces of evidence which will help with the investigation" were found.

This included two empty containers labelled with corrosive warnings, which are being tested to see if they are the same as the substance used during the attack.

Making a direct appeal to Ezedi, Cdr Savell said: "Abdul, you clearly have got some very significant injuries.

"We've seen the images. You need some medical help, so do the right thing and hand yourself in."

It comes as a close relative of Ezedi spoke to Sky News, where he said he wanted to find out if the suspect is dead or alive.

The relative said he plans to travel to Newcastle to see if he can find Ezedi, adding that he would "bring him" to police himself if he had to.

Meanwhile, former immigration minister Robert Jenrick has said the "farce" which allowed the asylum-seeker to remain in the country should lead to stronger border controls.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the Tory MP said the case was a "damning indictment" of the country's asylum system after Ezedi was allowed to remain in the country on the "wafer-thin" claim of having converted to Christianity which would have put him under threat in his own country.

"Information is still emerging, but this case already raises serious questions for everyone in positions of authority.

"Why was Abdul Shokoor Ezedi, the lead suspect, not prevented from entering illegally in the first place back in 2016?

"Why was he not instantly removed after he committed sexual assault, as per Home Office guidance? And why did an immigration judge ultimately grant him asylum on a wafer-thin claim and despite the Home Office's repeated protestations?

"At each stage, the asylum system privileged the rights of an illegal immigrant, who committed serious crimes, over the fundamental right of the British public to feel safe and secure in their communities."

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Ezedi, who is believed to be from Afghanistan, was convicted of a sexual offence in 2018 and given a suspended sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed he was sentenced on 9 January of that year after pleading guilty to one charge of sexual assault and one of exposure.

Ezedi was put on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

He was granted asylum after two failed attempts, having reportedly travelled to the UK on a lorry in 2016, it is believed.

Ezedi was allowed to stay in the country after a priest confirmed he had converted to Christianity and was "wholly committed" to his new religion, Sky News understands.