British Ministers Rally Around Boris Johnson Over Iran Remarks

  • British Ministers Rally Around Boris Johnson Over Iran Remarks

British Ministers Rally Around Boris Johnson Over Iran Remarks

"We are of the view that the only effective means under global law by which the grave harm suffered by Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe may be repaired lies in the UK's right to exercise diplomatic protection", the legal opinion said. He said he was increasingly concerned for her health, as she complained of sharp, stabbing pains in her breasts for some months, and on Saturday was taken to a Tehran hospital after discovering lumps.

Johnson's blunder has triggered calls for his resignation.

"My remarks on the subject before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee could and should have been clearer and I acknowledge that the words I used were open to being misinterpreted and I apologise to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family if I inadvertently caused them any further anguish", Mr Johnson said.

They hauled her in front of a court last week to confirm she was facing new charges of "propaganda against the regime" and could see her original five-year sentence doubled.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain on Monday morning, Ratcliffe revealed the Foreign Secretary has yet to apologise for the gaffe.

Mr Johnson said his previous comments were trying to make the point that he "disagreed with the Iranian view that training journalists was a crime".

But today he was forced to admit: "I hope that the House will understand with crystal clarity that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was there on holiday".

In a phone call, Mr Ratcliffe asked Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson to consider diplomatic protection for his wife, which under global law is a way for a state to take diplomatic action on behalf of a national.

Mr Johnson has agreed to meet Mr Ratcliffe in the next few days, the family's statement said.

It is unclear how such protection could be offered retrospectively to a dual Iranian-British citizen, or whether such a move could help to secure her release, but a spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said it was one option being considered. "He also told Nazanin that given her family history of breast cancer, and the fact that many cancers are related to stress, and given the level of anxiety Nazanin has been exposed to over an extended period, her situation should be kept under close surveillance".

"If it is a matter of pride that the foreign secretary is refusing to admit that simply he has made a mistake, well then I feel bound to say to him that his pride matters not one ounce compared to Nazanin's freedom", she said in the Commons.

He was asked by the BBC what the Briton was doing in Iran, and replied: "I don't know".

Mr Ratcliffe says a call for his wife's release from the United Nations last month had not been endorsed by government. On Sunday, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, said he did not know why she was there.

Nazanin" campaign said: "The Foreign Secretary said he was deeply sorry for Nazanin's suffering and that she had the support of the whole country.

Labour's Chris Bryant said the comments were proof of an "incompetent" Government.

Asked by Labour about the prospect, Mr Johnson told MPs that he would be answering the question "in person" and would meet Mr Ratcliffe this week. "It's a Government of incompetence".