British Government ‘does not deal with problems until they become crises’

Richard Ratcliffe

The husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has criticised the government’s handling of his wife’s case, stating that it “does not deal with problems until they become crises”.

Crisis point

Richard Ratcliffe said he held a strategy meeting with the Foreign Office on 15 October as he was concerned something would happen to his wife’s appeal during the autumn.

The next day, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was informed her appeal had been rejected, meaning she could now be sent back to prison at any point to serve a sentence of one year imprisonment plus a one-year travel ban for “spreading propaganda against the regime”.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the Britsh-Iranian woman jailed in Iran (Free Nazanin Campaign/PA)

Ratcliffe said he had urged the government to take quicker action over trying to get Zaghari-Ratcliffe home in their meeting as he was concerned about the outcome of her appeal. He told the PA news agency:

The longer we waited, the more chance of bad news. I didn’t expect the next day to get bad news, but we did. That’s [the rejection of the appeal] the Iranians signalling they’re not prepared to wait forever and they will do what they need to do.

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Is this going to be a wake-up call for the Government? Maybe, maybe not. One of the challenges I find with this Government is that it doesn’t deal with problems until they become crises. This is Iran threatening a crisis. One hopes that the Government takes it seriously.

Ratcliffe, who has been campaigning for his wife’s return home since her original incarceration in 2016, said he was left surprised by the update on 16 October.

He said he thought her appeal would have ended up being rejected in November after a “drawn-out court process” as Iran was “always going to confirm guilt, regardless of whether there is any”.

 Liz Truss
Foreign secretary Liz Truss has called for Nazanin’s permanent release (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“Anger”

In a statement on 16 October, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the nation’s decision to proceed with the “baseless” charges against the mother-of-one was an “appalling continuation of the cruel ordeal she is going through”.

She added:

We are doing all we can to help Nazanin get home to her young daughter and family and I will continue to press Iran on this point.

Speaking on 16 October, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq said:

This is yet another piece of devastating news for my constituent, her family and the millions around the world who care about her. For Nazanin to face a return to prison after the ordeal she’s been through is nothing short of a catastrophe. It seems that every time we dare to hope that Nazanin might soon be free, there is another dreadful setback that puts freedom out of sight. Whatever the Prime Minister has been doing to free Nazanin is clearly not working.

It’s time for the UK Government to pay the debt we owe to Iran, stand up to their despicable hostage taking and finally get Nazanin home.

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