UK Foreign Secretary Apologizes For Remarks About Briton Jailed In Iran

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Michael Gove

After days of being criticised for his "non apology" - having wrongly said the imprisoned British mother had been in Iran "training journalists" at the time of her arrest in April past year - the Foreign Secretary dolloped out a giant helping of the same. "But her life is in Britain - she has a British home, a British job, a British husband, a British child".

He will also "look seriously" at the prospect of him accompanying the Foreign Secretary to Iran, and "consider personally" Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's eligibility for diplomatic protection. The Foreign Office would need to take legal advice on how it would work in her case.

Family and friends have said the confusion has put Zaghari-Ratcliffe at risk of a longer prison sentence.

"In that case I take exactly her husband's assurance in that regard", he told the Andrew Marr Show. She was there on holiday. It wasn't for any other goal.

Mrs May's spokesman said the Prime Minister had personally spoken to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on two occasions about the case, most recently at the UN General Assembly in September.

In the wake of Gove's comments, Ratcliffe said on Monday he had written to the government asking for ministers to be reminded she was in the country on holiday at the time of her arrest. This is despite accusations of Gove and Johnson exacerbating her plight.

Labour have since called for the foreign secretary's resignation, but Mr Ratcliffe has said he believes it is not in his wife's interests for anyone to resign.

Defending Boris Johnson - who is facing calls to resign - he also criticised those trying to "blame politicians in a democracy who are trying to do the right thing". He said the foreign secretary had promised to meet him in the next few days, and that the pair might go to Iran together to seek Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release.

But while her United Kingdom family have been calling on the Foreign Office to fight for her release, the Foreign Secretary made matters much worse for her by mistakenly telling an open House of Commons hearing that she was "teaching people journalism".

The coordinated defence is part of attempts to shore up the government of Prime Minister Theresa May, weakened by a series of scandals and gaffes involving her top team of ministers as she negotiates Britain's departure from the European Union.

"New lumps had been identified in each of her breasts", he said.

In an interview with the Today programme on Monday morning, Richard Ratcliffe indicated he was less than happy with Gove's interview. "I think other members of the cabinet think it's important they don't muddy it, but they're less influential".

"I'm reassured that it is the position of the government", Mr Ratcliffe said.

What was interesting, though, was that Tory MPs seemed much more comfortable with making this argument than they had been a week ago.

Ratcliffe argued it would "send a very clear message, diplomatically" if both went to the prison.

But speaking in Westminster on 1 November, Mr Johnson appeared to contradict her own account when he wrongly said she had been training journalists.

Richard Ratcliffe said his wife had seen a doctor but was on "the verge of a nervous breakdown".

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