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

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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”.

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

The next day, by coincidence, Ms 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)

Mr Ratcliffe said he had urged the Government to take quicker action over trying to get Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe home in their meeting on Friday 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.

“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.”

Mr 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 Saturday.

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)

In a statement on Saturday, 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.”

Mr Ratcliffe said Ms Truss had spoken to Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe on the phone on Saturday after her appeal was rejected.

Responding to the statement, Mr Ratcliffe said: “Nazanin said that she sounded angry on the phone and I can hear the anger in her words.

“But at this stage I am interested in her latest sentence, ‘the actions she is taking beyond more pressing Iran’.”

The Foreign Office declined to comment further.

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