BORIS JOHNSON finally said sorry yesterday as pressure mounted on him to resign after making a colossal blunder that could see a British mum spend an extra five years in an Iranian jail.
Labour MP Tulip Siddiq called on the Foreign Secretary to stand down if Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe spends “even one more day” in prison because of comments he made to a Commons committee that were used to bring further charges against her.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual citizen, has been locked up for 18 months of a five-year sentence for spying and plotting to bring down the Iranian government.
She insists she was in Iran so her three-year-old daughter could meet her grandparents but Mr Johnson blathered to MPs that she was “training journalists” in Iran — a charge specifically rejected by her family and employer, the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was then summoned back to court to face further possible charges carrying another five-year penalty.
For days the Foreign Secretary has brazened it out, but with fears mounting for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s wellbeing — she has reported finding lumps on her breasts and her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, said that she was close to a nervous breakdown — Mr Johnson told the Commons: “Of course I apologise for the distress, for the suffering that has been caused by the impression I gave that I believed she was there in a professional capacity. She was there on holiday.”
Earlier Mr Ratcliffe told Good Morning Britain that Mr Johnson had — finally — spoken to him by phone over the weekend. When asked if he had apologised for his comments, Mr Ratcliffe said: “He didn’t make the connection. He didn’t mention it.”
The Tory minister is to meet Mr Ratcliffe today to discuss the possibility of her being offered “diplomatic protection” as part of government efforts to secure her return.