Petition to free West Hampstead mum and baby from Iran delivered to Downing Street
PUBLISHED: 15:00 19 May 2016 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 May 2016
Prime Minister David Cameron was today handed a 500,000-strong petition urging him to secure the return of a West Hampstead mother and her baby daughter detained in Iran.
Husband and father Richard Ratcliffe, 41, and his parents were accompanied by Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq as they took the petition to free his wife Nazanin to Downing Street.
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.
Visibly moved as he handed in the petition, Mr Ratcliffe, who met foreign office officials yesterday said: “I just want his help in bringing my wife and daughter home, where they belong.”
He will now take the petition, with a total of 535,879 signatures so far, to Europe and to the Iranian Government.
He said: “Our next step is to go to Bruxelles and the European task force on Iran on Monday and the week after we will take it to the Iranian embassy.
“We hope by then to make an even bigger noise. It would be great if we can reach a million signatures.”
Supported by his parents John and Barbara Ratcliffe, Mr Ratcliffe was also celebrating news that his wife has been moved out of solitary confinement to a group cell and been allowed access to a lawyer.”
Mr Ratcliffe said “Nazanin and Gabriella’s family would like to express our deepest thanks to every one of the half a million people who have signed our petition over the past 10 days.
“It is that overwhelming level of public concern, in the UK, Iran and elsewhere, that will bring them home.”
Miss Sidiq said: “What has happened to Richard is every parent’s worst nightmare. Your daughter goes off to visit her grandparents in Iran and they are held at customs and not allowed to come back. He was expecting his daughter to be back to be playing with her like any normal West Hampstead parent. I can’t imagine what they are going through.”
Miss Sidiq said she had left her five-week old daughter Azalea for the first time since she was born to support Mr Ratcliffe.
“I have left her because I feel I need to support them. At least I know I am going to go back and see her afterwards. He doesn’t even know when he is going to see Gabriella again or his wife.
“This is an utter disgrace that the Foreign Office hasn’t done something and that the Prime Minister hasn’t personally got involved yet.”