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New foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt told to bring Nazanin home

Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq accuses Boris Johnson of making Iran case worse

09 July, 2018 — By Richard Osley

HAMPSTEAD and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq has called on new foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt to finally help bring a charity worker locked up in Iran back home.

She said Boris Johnson who today (Monday) quit Theresa May’s cabinet amid the government’s Brexit deal crisis had worsened the prospects of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s release during his time in the role.

The mother-of-one from West Hampstead is being held on vague charges since her arrest at Tehran airport on the way home from a family holiday in 2016. Her daughter Gabriella remains in Iran with grandparents, separated from her father, Richard Ratcliffe.

Mr Hunt was this evening confirmed as the new foreign secretary with Prime Minister Theresa May forced into making changes following Mr Johnson’s resignation and that of Brexit Secretary David Davis, who stepped down earlier in the day.

Ms Siddiq repeatedly clashed with Mr Johnson over Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case, which has had mass media attention but without a positive outcome for the family.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband and daughter

“Boris’s delusions on Brexit will grab headlines, but it was his involvement in this case which was totally unforgivable,” said Ms Siddiq.

“My constituent’s plight was worsened by his untimely and inaccurate interventions. A lack of decisive action thereafter has meant her situation has barely improved.”

Tulip Siddiq and Richard Ratcliffe meet Boris Johnson after the now ex-foreign secretary’s gaffe

She added: “Boris Johnson’s resignation has to mean a departure from his catastrophic efforts to bring Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe back to West Hampstead. His successor must do more to bring her home.”

In the most high profile blunder on the case, Mr Johnson told a parliamentary committee last November that Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had actually been “teaching people journalism”, a comment which led to reports in Iran that she could see her five year sentence extended.

Her employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has confirmed she has never worked in that capacity and Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe has always maintained she was simply visiting relatives.

Her appeals have failed, meaning diplomatic intervention from the UK government is believed to represent her best hope of being released. Mr Johnson later said he was “sorry if any words of mine have been taken out of context”, although insisted they would not have affected the case.

The former London Mayor’s departure from Mrs May’s front bench comes with the Conservatives at Westminster divided over Brexit, despite a cabinet get-together at Chequers last week.

 

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