FORTY asylum seekers living on board the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port have reportedly converted or or are converting to Christianity - however a campaigner has said many of them were already Christian.

The Telegraph reported that nearly one in seven of the 300 asylum seekers on board the Bibby Stockholm are attending churches under the supervision of local faith leaders.

It comes amid growing fears asylum seekers are converting religions to try and help their asylum claims - after suspected Clapham chemical attacker Abdul Ezedi converted to Christianity before he was granted asylum in the UK.

Asylum campaigner Nicola David of  refugee support organisation One Life to Live said she has spoken to asylum seekers living on board the barge who are practicing Christians and argued the idea they were converting religions to try and stay in the UK was "ludicrous".

Ms David said: "I have spoken to a chaplain at the port and he has no doubts that there are a large number of Christians living on the barge.

"I have spoken to a few of them myself, I spoke to them about the bible and prayers and I have no doubts they are Christian.

"One of the biggest reasons many have come to the UK is because in Iran many are persecuted for being Christian.

"The grant rate for Iranians is high for that reason and there are many Iranians on the barge, it is one of the dominant nationalities on board.

"There could definitely be 40 of them who are Christian, maybe more.

"There is no reason to link this to [Abdul Ezedi]; many of these people are already Christians.

The number of asylum seekers claiming to have converted is not published by the Home Office, but David Rees, a church elder and education consultant, told the BBC’s Sunday programme that 40 asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm had converted or were in the process of becoming Christians.

Ms David said that the decision of asylum seekers to change their religion was unlikely to be motivated by a plan to help their asylum claims.

Asylum seekers who are living on the barge are already in the asylum system and are in the process of having their claims assessed.

She added: "If they are converting to Christianity, they are not doing it to help their claims, that is ludicrous.

"They cannot be on the barge unless their asylum claim was made before March 7, 2023.

"It would be pointless for them to change their religion for the sake of a claim when they are already on the barge, they have already made their claims."