Boris Johnson 'Fails To Apologise' In First Meeting With Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

The former Iranian detainee told the prime minister his words had a "massive impact" on her.
Boris Johnson with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in 10 Downing Street
Boris Johnson with Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe in 10 Downing Street
Andrew ParsonsAndrew Parsons / No10 Downing St

Boris Johnson did not apologise to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe as he met her for the first time since her release from an Iranian prison.

The prime minister has been accused of lengthening her ordeal when, as foreign secretary in 2017, he wrongly claimed she had been training journalists at the time of her arrest in 2016.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe told the PM his comments had “a massive impact” on her and that she had “lived in the shadow of his words” while in prison.

Asked afterwards if the prime minister apologised, her husband Richard Ratcliffe responded: “Not specifically.”

However, he insisted it was not an “abrasive meeting” and that it was “undeniable” that Mr Johnson was sorry for the impact his mistake had had.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe was finally released in March after being detained for nearly six years.

Fellow detainee Anoosheh Ashoori was also freed after the UK agreed to settle a historic £400 million debt to Iran dating to the 1970s

Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s daughter Gabriella and local constituency MP, Tulip Siddiq, were also present at the Downing Street meeting.

Mr Ratcliffe said his wife challenged the Prime Minister on “why did it take so long” to secure her release.

Siddiq, the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said Johnson “looked quite shocked” when Zaghari-Ratcliffe challenged him.

She said: “I was really proud of Nazanin. She was sitting next to the prime minister, and she told him very clearly and categorically that his words had had a big impact on her and that she had lived in the shadow of his words for the best part of four-and-a-half years.

“I have to say the Prime Minister looked quite shocked, I think, when she said that, but I was really proud she did say that because she wanted to make it clear to him that she’s happy now, she’s grateful, she appreciates the fact that she is home now, but there was a time when the words had a big impact.”

Four days after Mr Johnson’s damaging remarks as foreign secretary, Zaghari-ratcliffe was summoned before an unscheduled court hearing, where his comments were cited as proof that she was engaged in “propaganda against the regime”.

A No 10 spokesman replied: “I think it is important to remember that it was the Iranian government who were responsible for her unfair detention, and the decision to release her was always in their gift.

“However, I would point back to the Prime Minister’s words, his answers to questions on this before and he has previously apologised for his comments in 2017.”

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