Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe tells Johnson she ‘lived in shadow’ of his wrong comments for years – as it happened

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe tells Boris Johnson she ‘lived in the shadows’ of his wrong comments for over four years

Accompanied by her family and the Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe came face to face with Boris Johnson for the first time since her release in March, reports PA.

Siddiq said that after six years of “unjust and unlawful imprisonment” the British-Iranian dual national deserved to “hear directly” from Johnson about why it took so long to get her home.

In 2017, Johnson, then foreign secretary, wrongly claimed that Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been training journalists at the time of her arrest in 2016. Following his remarks, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was summoned before an unscheduled court hearing where his comments were used as proof that she was engaged in “propaganda against the regime”.

When asked if Johnson would be apologising to Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a spokesperson for the prime minister said:

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.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe, daughter Gabriella leaving 10 Downing Street, central London, after a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and daughter, Gabriella, leaving 10 Downing Street, central London, after a meeting with Boris Johnson. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Siddiq, the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said the prime minister looked “quite shocked” after Zaghari-Ratcliffe told him how his words affected her and that she had “lived in the shadow” of them for the past four and a half years.

“I was really proud she did say that,” added Siddiq. “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.”


That’s all for our live coverage for today. Here’s a summary of the day’s main developments in case you missed them.

Michelle O’Neill says the DUP is “denying democracy” and “punishing the public” by refusing to nominate a speaker for the Northern Ireland assembly.

DUP ‘punishing public’ with Northern Ireland politics stalemate, says Michelle O’Neill – video

Boris Johnson is set to visit Northern Ireland on Monday amid a political crisis, after the DUP blocked the election of a Speaker at Stormont, Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill said.

PA reports:

The DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, has insisted he is sending a “clear message” to the EU and the UK Government about resolving issues with the Northern Ireland protocol.

But Ms O’Neill accused the unionist party of “punishing the electorate” while Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said it had been a “shameful day” for the DUP.

The failure to elect a Speaker leaves the Stormont assembly unable to function.

The 90 MLAs met for the first time in the Stormont chamber on Friday after last week’s Northern Ireland assembly election saw Sinn Féin emerge as the largest party for the first time.

The first order of business was for MLAs to sign the roll of membership before an attempt was made to elect a Speaker. Two candidates, Mike Nesbitt of the UUP, and Patsy McGlone, of the SDLP, were nominated but did not receive the necessary support.

The DUP is also refusing to nominate for the position of deputy first minister, which prevents the forming of a new executive, as part of its protest against the protocol.

Summary of the day

Rachel Hall

Rachel Hall

It’s been an unusually busy Friday in UK politics, following the announcement of civil service job cuts, tension between parties in the Northern Ireland assembly and a terse meeting between Boris Johnson and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Here are the day’s main events:

Thanks for following today, I’m handing over to my colleague Euan O’Byrne Mulligan for the rest of the evening. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Here’s a video of reactions to the meeting from MP Tulip Siddiq and Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s husband Richard Ratcliffe, who accompanied her.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘lived in the shadow’ of Boris Johnson’s words, MP recounts – video

Northern Irish political parties attacked the Democratic Unionist party (DUP) for failing to elect a speaker to the assembly on Friday.

The decision by the DUP came in addition to the party’s decision to block the formation of a power-sharing executive as part of a plan to oppose the Northern Ireland protocol.

The stance was lambasted by several politicians in the assembly, including by Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O’Neill.

O’Neill, whose party emerged with the most seats in the election, told MLAs that the public is hoping that Northern Ireland’s elected parties have “the maturity and courage” to take responsibility, adding that “there is absolutely no reason we should be in a rolling crisis, even for one second”.

It is the job of politicians to “properly fund” the healthcare service and to agree a three-year budget and invest in the health service.

This is our hour of decision, not tomorrow, and not for a moment longer can the DUP deny democracy, punish the public, boycott this Assembly and executive, and prevent us from putting money in people’s pockets.

Every one party in this chamber told the electorate that they would turn up on day one. Well, the DUP have failed on day one.

Speaking to reporters after the assembly was adjourned, O’Neill said the DUP has “punished the electorate” by boycotting the election of a speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and that “the public deserve better”.

She said the DUP’s action to boycott the election of an Assembly speaker “isn’t tolerable, it isn’t acceptable, it isn’t good enough”.

O’Neill also announced that Sinn Fein MLA for Upper Bann John O’Dowd would be taking up the role of infrastructure minister in a caretaker capacity, after the former minister Nichola Mallon of the SDLP lost her seat in last week’s election.

Alliance party leader Naomi Long said it had been a “shameful day” for the DUP. Speaking in the Great Hall at Stormont, Mrs Long said:

Despite the fact that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland voted for parties that wanted to return to government, that wanted to see the assembly work, and despite the fact that even those who voted for the DUP gave them no mandate to block a return to the Assembly, we have found ourselves in that situation today.

But while this is a sad day for the people of Northern Ireland, it is a shameful day for the DUP.

The day the DUP came to Stormont, signed the register, took their salaries but refused to take their seats and do the work to earn it.

I don’t think that is ever acceptable but it is particularly unacceptable when people in our constituencies are struggling to feed their families, struggling to heat their homes, worried for their futures and it puts all of us as politicians in a place which is embarrassing once again.

We want to serve the public but are prevented from doing so.

Stormont fails to elect a new speaker

The Stormont assembly has failed to elect a new speaker after the DUP said it would not support the process as part of its protest against the Northern Ireland protocol.

The move will stop the devolved assembly from being able to

UUP MLA Mike Nesbitt, one of the candidates for speaker, was not elected in the cross-community vote, despite his candidacy receiving backing by 51.9% of MLAs.

SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone also failed in his bid to be speaker, receiving 71.3% of the vote but also failing to receive sufficient cross-community support.

The new joint declaration on the UK-Norway relationship states that the countries are committed to working together to boost “security, sustainability, and prosperity” in Europe and beyond.

It focuses on seven key areas: security and defence; global challenges; energy, economic and investment co-operation; climate change and environmental issues; research and innovation; culture and education; and strategic dialogue and institutional exchanges.

The declaration says the countries will continue to “engage closely on shared interests in defence, foreign policy and security, prosperity, trade and technology, energy, climate and environment, innovation, and culture”.

It states:

Regular dialogue and co-operation across all sectors will advance bilateral trade and investment as we move towards a net zero economy.

Internationally, shared democratic values and a desire to promote global sustainable economic and social progress will form the bedrock of collaboration including through the UN, Nato, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the WTO.

We will continue to consult and co-operate closely in international and multilateral fora on climate change and biodiversity loss; oceans; food security; reducing poverty; safeguarding human rights and gender equality; supporting access to education and health; and promoting peace and security including by improving conflict prevention and women’s meaningful participation in peace processes.

All senior civil service jobs are to be advertised externally, which the government says will improve diversity, bring in new skills and move jobs of out London.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay, who has written to cabinet ministers to outline the changes, said:

Civil servants do a great job delivering public services for people up and down the country, and just like in any high-performing business in the private sector, employees thrive when there is diversity of leadership.

The pathway to achieving this aim is to ensure the civil service is able to select from amongst the widest possible pool of talent so we can hire the highest calibre staff. This will also contribute to our commitment to levelling up opportunity across the UK by moving roles out of London.

We want to reduce the size of the civil service so it comes back down to the levels we had in 2016 but it remains important that, when we do recruit, particularly for leadership roles, we are able to bring in the best possible candidates for every position.

All 7,000 senior civil service positions will be covered by the new policy.

PM signs cooperation deal with Norwegian leader

Boris Johnson and his Norwegian counterpart Jonas Gahr Støre have signed a new joint declaration meaning Norway will, according to its leader, cooperate “more extensively with the UK than any other country in the world”.

At a meeting in London, the two leaders “underscored their full support” for any choice by Nordic partners to enhance their security, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

They also discussed the “pressing need” to boost the supply of sustainable energy, with the UK prime minister remarking that “the sky was the limit” when it came to collaboration between the two countries on the issue.

The pair discussed the security situation in northern Europe and stressed that Russian president Vladimir Putin’s “barbaric” invasion of Ukraine and “hostility” towards neighbouring states was “totally unjustified”, the spokesperson added.

“Both leaders underscored their full support for any sovereign choice made by Nordic partners to enhance their security,” they said.

No 10 said the leaders agreed on the need for Nato allies to back Ukraine politically, taking a “unified approach” that “avoids giving Putin licence to further twist the knife in the wound of Ukraine”.

Heather Stewart

Heather Stewart

The Guardian’s political editor Heather Stewart has the full story on the mass resignation of the 16-strong executive of Wakefield constituency Labour party (CLP).

The executive accuse Keir Starmer of stitching up the selection of a candidate for the forthcoming byelection.

Party members in Wakefield claim the leader’s office has failed to abide by Labour rules, by allowing the local party only one seat of five on the panels for longlisting and then shortlisting candidates.

They argue that neither of the two people who made it through to the shortlist, Kate Dearden and Simon Lightwood, have local roots, and several other plausible candidates, including the deputy leader of Wakefield council, Jack Hemingway, were passed over.

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