British mother jailed in Iran 'could be given diplomatic immunity'

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand

A British mother imprisoned in Iran may be granted diplomatic immunity, her husband has said.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested as she tried to leave the country with her baby daughter Gabriella in 2016, and later jailed for five years on propaganda charges.

The married mother-of-one has always maintained she was in the country visiting her parents, who are now caring for her daughter after officials confiscated her British passport.

Iranian prosecutors claim Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was teaching journalism "aimed at recruiting and training people to spread propaganda against Iran".

He husband Richard, who has not seen his wife or daughter for months, has made repeated pleas for the UK government to step in.

But remarks by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson may have put Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe at risk of having another five years added to her sentence.

There were calls for Mr Johnson to quit after he wrongly said Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who is employed by Reuters, was teaching journalists.

Her husband told ITV News he had since spoken to Mr Johnson who had apologised for all the suffering his wife was going through.

"He said the whole country was with her. He also said he wanted to meet within the next few days, that he was going to Iran soon and he would look seriously at me going with him.

"I also asked if he would consider granted her diplomatic immunity, and he said he would consider it seriously."

A Foreign Office minister will appear before the Commons later to answer an urgent question on Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's case from shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry.

Mr Johnson was in Brussels on Monday for a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council, and the Foreign Office was not immediately able to say which minister will respond.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is considering granting Zaghari-Ratcliffe diplomatic immunity. Credit: PA

As well as being incarcerated in Iran's notorious Evin jail, there are also fears for Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's physical and mental health.

Her husband said she has found lumps in her breasts and has to see a specialist to see if she needs an operation.

"Mentally is the part I'm most worried about," Mr Zaghari-Ratcliffe said.

"She's clearly very fragile and said on the phone she feels like she's on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

"She talks about being unable to control her moods, being irrationally angry, crying for unknown reasons.

"She wants to be home and is needing a lot of reassurance from me on every phone call that I promise her she'll be home soon."