Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:12 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Andrew Murrison Andrew Murrison Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development) 1:12 pm, 17th July 2019

The hon. Lady’s question and the way in which she has put her remarks today do her great credit, and the work she does for her constituent is admirable.

We are, of course, seeking consular access. We have sought consular access from the beginning of this case. We believe that, as circumstances have changed, consular access now needs to be granted urgently. More importantly, we want to ensure that Nazanin gets access to her family. The hon. Lady will be in contact with the family, as are we, and it is the best way we have of determining Nazanin’s status right now. Indeed, it would be cruel to deny this lady, in a psychiatric ward of a public hospital, access to her family, which must happen immediately.

I deplore the maltreatment of prisoners, wherever it occurs. The hon. Lady’s description is completely unacceptable, and it is completely contrary to any international norms. She will understand that the Iranian system is multifarious, and we are concerned about exactly who is controlling the situation as far as Nazanin is concerned. I appeal to the better nature of people in Tehran to do what is right for Nazanin—that is vital.

The hon. Lady touches on Grace 1, and she will anticipate my answer, which is that this is primarily a matter for the Gibraltarian authorities, who are exercising a matter of law under EU sanctions. I do not believe the two cases are directly linked. However, we certainly need to ensure there is de-escalation in relation to our interaction with Iran, in Gibraltar and in the Gulf. When I visited Tehran recently, de-escalation was absolutely my message. Were we to approach something that looks like normality in relation to our access to this particular piece, all sorts of things would be possible.

I sincerely urge our interlocutors in Tehran to approach this on the basis of decency and humanity so that Nazanin can be given the treatment that she undoubtedly requires, but in a proper setting and using proper norms and practices.