Britain's Gove offers support to foreign secretary over Iran comments

Cheryl Sanders
November 13, 2017

Her husband spoke by phone Sunday to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who has been under fire for making misleading statements about the case.

"Her husband said she was there on holiday, and her husband is the person who should know".

"Why would you want to sack him?"

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett accused Gove of protecting Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is facing mounting pressure to leave office after he made some damaging remarks on Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

But he went on to reiterate the family's belief that she was there on holiday, while staunchly defending Johnson and laying the blame on Iran for her continued detention.

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".

Major fears have emerged over the health of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe after it was revealed she had found lumps in both her breasts since she has been imprisoned.

In a blunt final paragraph, Corbyn added: "We've put up with him embarrassing and undermining our country through his incompetence and putting our citizens at risk for long enough".

Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe insists she and her young daughter were just on a family visit when she was arrested in Tehran in 2016.

In a statement, he also described his wife's state of mind, saying she "again suggested she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown".

The Iranian government accused her of working for a United Kingdom media network involved in activities against Iran.

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. She was also charged with having attended a demonstration outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

But two of his allies, Brexit minister David Davis and environment minister Michael Gove, defended Johnson, who last week said he could have been clearer in his remark that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been teaching people journalism before her arrest in April 2016.

Gove's answers are likely to create yet more ammunition for the government's critics over its handling of the case.

On Sunday, he also called Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and the family said the 20-minute conversation had been "positive". "He's a good foreign secretary", Davis told Sky News.

Forty members of the Conservative Party have agreed to sign a letter of no-confidence in the prime ministers, eight short of the number needed to trigger a leadership contest, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

A specialist who examined her believes they are benign but should be monitored because Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe has a family history of breast cancer and that the stress she is under could be a contributory factor.

Patel's resignation came just over a week after Defense Secretary Michael Fallon quit after becoming embroiled in the Westminster sexual harassment scandal.

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