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Boris Johnson apologises for comments over jailed Briton in Iran

14 November 2017, 01:07 | Darnell Patrick

Boris Johnson apologises for comments over jailed Briton in Iran

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson attends the 2017 Chatham House London Conference at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London

"He should be focusing on getting this poor woman home to her family, not looking to protect himself with anonymous briefings to journalists".

Zaghari-Ratcliffe is now in prison in Iran.

Shadow Foreign secretary Emily Thornberry condemned Mr Johnson for days of "obfuscation and bluster" where he failed to clarify his comments, as she urged him to state "simply and unequivocally" that he got it wrong.

She told the Foreign Secretary his "pride matters not one ounce compared to Nazanin's freedom".

The foreign secretary told MPs: "Of course I apologise for the distress, for the suffering, that has been caused by the impression that I gave that I believed that she was there in a professional capacity".

"She was there on holiday".

"I reject any suggestion that she was there in a professional capacity", he said.

Allies of Mr Johnson have reportedly said he was given an incorrect briefing by Foreign Office officials ahead of a committee hearing at which the comments were made.

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Ratcliffe told the BBC he hoped he could travel to Iran with Johnson to meet his wife.

But Mr Ratcliffe did reveal his anger with the Government's handling of his wife's case, adding: "Don't get me wrong, I've not always been happy with the Government, the Government knows that behind closed doors, the Government knows that on the media and so on. But at the same time I'm not trying to push for anyone to lose their job, I'm just trying to bring Nazanin home".

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's family has also stepped up the pressure in recent days as the mother-of-one's plight hit the national airwaves.

"He's certainly the right person now to go and compensate for the enormous harm he has done". Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was employed by the Thomson Reuters Foundation when she was arrested by Iran's Revolutionary Guard last April while visiting her parents with her two year-old daughter, Gabriella.

Conservative MP Micheal Gove has come under fire for claiming he did not know what British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran when she was arrested in 2016.

The Herald recently reported that Nazanin, who is already serving a five-year jail term, is now facing fresh charges and could face an additional 16 years of imprisonment if convicted.

It comes as Downing Street said it was considering offering diplomatic protection to the mother-of-one, which would make the case a legal dispute between Iran and the United Kingdom, rather than a consular issue.

Michael Gove, Britain's Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, arrives in Downing Street for a cabinet meeting in London, October 17, 2017.



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