Lead­ing Scots Tory at­tacks ‘smug’ Gove and John­son

● For­mer MEP slams han­dling of Zaghari-rat­cliffe case with Iran

The Scotsman - - News Digest - BY TOM PETERKIN

A lead­ing Scottish Con­ser­va­tive to­day con­demns Michael Gove and Boris John­son for mak­ing “smug and com­pla­cent” re­marks that fur­ther en­dan­ger the life of the Bri­tish-ira­nian woman im­pris­oned in Iran.

Writ­ing in The Scots­man, the for­mer Tory MEP Struan Steven­son launches a scathing at­tack on the way the UK gov­ern­ment min­is­ters have re­acted to the predica­ment of Nazanin Zaghari-rat­cliffe, the in­no­cent 38-year-old mother lan­guish­ing in Tehran’s Evin prison. He also ac­cuses the For­eign Of­fice of “cring­ing ap­pease­ment” to­wards Iran and fail­ing to recog­nise the bru­tal­ity of its regime.

Mr John­son, the For­eign Sec­re­tary, has been crit­i­cised for sug­gest­ing Ms Zaghari-rat­cliffe had been train­ing jour­nal­ists on her trip to Iran – a re­mark that caused con­cern that she would be made to serve a longer sen­tence.

Ira­nian state TV seized on the comments as an “un­in­tended con­fes­sion”, prompt­ing fears they would be used by the Ira­nian au­thor­i­ties to jus­tify her con­tin­ued im­pris­on­ment over spy­ing al­le­ga­tions.

Mr John­son, who is fac­ing calls to quit as For­eign Sec­re­tary, has since been forced to apol­o­gise and say that she was solely on hol­i­day.

Mr Gove was drawn into the row fol­low­ing an ap­pear­ance

0 For­mer MEP Struan Steven­son at­tacked ‘smug and com­pla­cent’ Michael Gove and Boris John­son on the Andrew Marr Show on Sun­day. Asked what she had been do­ing in Iran, Mr Gove replied: “I don’t know” adding there was “no rea­son Nazanin Zaghari-rat­cliffe should be in prison in Iran so far as any of us know”. He went on to say her hus­band was the per­son who would know and he would take his as­sur­ance that she was on hol­i­day. Mr Gove has been ac­cused of be­ing more in­ter­ested in pro­tect­ing Mr John­son than se­cur­ing Ms Zaghari-rat­cliffe’s free­dom.

Mr Steven­son writes: “Gove and John­son should wake up to the predica­ment in which their smug, com­pla­cent re­marks have placed Zaghari­rat­cliffe. Many women have been ex­e­cuted in Iran for lesser of­fences.”

He goes on to claim the For­eignof­fice’s“cringin­gap­pease­ment of the mul­lah’s regime is why suc­ces­sive Bri­tish gov­ern­ments have al­ways placed trade and lu­cra­tive com­mer­cial con­tracts ahead of hu­man rights. Their ar­ro­gant and com­pla­cent ap­proach to one of the world’s most cruel and tyran­ni­cal regimes is why Nazanin Zaghari-rat­cliffe has been al­lowed to lan­guish in Evin prison for 19 months.”

A gov­ern­ment spokes­woman said last night the UK had pressed Iran to im­prove its hu­man rights record.

Mean­while, Theresa May’s for­mer chief of staff Nick Ti­mothy has launched an at­tack on Philip Ham­mond’s abil­i­ties ahead of next week’s Bud­get, claim­ing the Chan­cel­lor lacks the imag­i­na­tion and de­sire to help or­di­nary peo­ple.

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