Husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe hits out at UK government inaction over wife’s arrest in Iran

The Ratclliffe family when Gabriella was one week old

The Ratclliffe family when Gabriella was one week old - Credit: Archant

The husband of a West Hampstead mum who has been held for 50 days in Iran without charge has hit out at the government for not doing enough to secure her release.

Richard Ratcliffe, 41, of Fortune Green Road, spoke out days after delivering a petition with half a million signatures to Downing Street last Thursday, calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to help bring his wife home.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, has been held in solitary confinement without charge for 42 days after being seized at Tehran’s main airport with daughter Gabriella, 22 months, as they were returning to the UK after visiting relatives.

Gabriella, whose British passport was seized, has been detained in Iran, being looked after by her grandparents.

Mr Ratcliffe has been unable to speak to or contact his wife of seven years as all conversation must be in Farsi, which he doesn’t speak.

Last Thursday we devoted our front page to highlighting the case of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and accompanied Mr Ratcliffe and his parents to Downing Street to see him hand in the petition, which now has nearly 700,000 supporters.

Visibly moved as he handed in the petition, he said afterwards: “I was proud at being able to present it, in having our family’s photos taken in front of Number 10. I was also touched by the care of those around us.”

But just days later Mr Ratcliffe’s pride has turned to disappointment as he has accused ministers of failing to mention his wife’s plight in three key meetings with Iranian officials.

Most Read

The meetings include:

* Foreign secretary Philip Hammond met his Iranian counterpart in vienna to discuss the Syrian crisis on May 17

* Treasury Mnister Damien Hinds opened a conference with the Iranian Central Bank in London on reconnecting Iran to global banking last Thursday

* On the same day, the UK, US, EU, Germany and France issued a joint statement in Brussels to encourage European banks and businesses in Iran.

He said: “There has been no mention of Nazanin’s case being raised in any of these interactions. Maybe I missed it. But the accountant in me would respectfully suggest that these are the areas that have leverage. And acknowledge that Nazanin may not yet be quite the priority I’d like her to be.”

He has also said that during a meeting with foreign office he was told it is not government policy to intervene in cases of British dual nationals, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

He said: “In this sense, it is not actually policy to try to ensure minimum protections for British citizens.” “

Mr Ratcliffe, who was yesterday in Brussells meeting the European commissions Iran Task Force, called on David Cameron to do more to bring home his family.

He said: “What I want is the obvious – I want the government to do all it can – across its full range of interactions - to bring Nazanin and Gabriella home. I want it to protect my family as a priority as British citizens. What that means exactly, what can be done, I don’t know – but 50 days is long enough.