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Christmas saved in Belsize after council lights fiasco

Event on December 9 will feature a street play about imprisoned Nazanin Ratcliffe

14 November, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Nazanin Ratcliffe’s husband Richard with Linda Chung at last year’s event

CHRISTMAS is back on in Belsize despite the festive lights being cancelled because of council tree felling policy.

Organiser Linda Grove said the community had rallied round to save the party with an event on December 9 at 6pm.

Along with the traditional mulled wine and carols, the Christmas festival will double as a campaign rally for Nazanin Ratcliffe with a street play and poetry reading.

She said: “The Christmas concert will be held outside Budgen’s in Haverstock Hill as originally planned, despite the loss of the Christmas lights. We are tremendously excited and there is a really great team spirit around.”

Ms Grove had announced last month that the Belsize Christmas fayre was off after the council said it must cut down two dead trees outside Budgen’s that the lights were traditionally hung from.

Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe spoke through a microphone at the Belsize Christmas event last year. This year,  a shortened version of play about Nazanin’s imprisonment in Iran – Looking For Mummy – will be staged in the street. Dame Janet Suzman will also read a poem by a Russian poet about the horrors of prison.

Ms Grove said Nazanin’s husband is due to attend, adding: “But let’s hope Richard doesn’t make Belsize and that Boris, or our new foreign minister, whisks him off to Iran to get his beloved wife and daughter home in time for Christmas and we can all share in their joy.”

Mr Johnson has apologised to the House of Commons for saying Nazanin was in Iran training journalists – a “gaffe” that appeared to lead to her sentence being extended by Iran authorities. The foreign secretary said that it was now his department’s “priority” to bring Nazanin home on “humanitarian grounds”.


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