- Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was visiting her family when she was arrested in Iran
- She was jailed and her husband Richard said she is on the verge of a breakdown
- He revealed she has found new lumps in her breasts and is 'losing her temper'
- But despite her anger over 'shambles' family believe Boris Johnson shouldn't quit
- Her husband said: ‘It is not in Nazanin’s interests for there to be any resignations'
Published: 13:37 EST, 12 November 2017 | Updated: 02:24 EST, 13 November 2017
The husband of a British mother imprisoned in Iran last night revealed she is ‘angry’ at Boris Johnson’s handling of the case – but insisted he should not be forced to resign.
Richard Ratcliffe said his wife Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, was ‘on the verge of a nervous breakdown’ and angry at the Foreign Secretary for allowing the situation to become ‘a shambles’.
He said her mood was ‘uncontrollable’ and revealed that she had experienced pain in her breasts and been taken to hospital for an ultrasound, which found lumps.
The mother-of-one has a family history of breast cancer and a former cellmate described seeing her hair falling out in ‘huge clumps’.
Boris Johnson has faced calls to resign for suggesting last week that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was training journalists in Iran – comments which could lead to her jail sentence being increased.
Her husband said yesterday he had a 'positive' phone call with Boris Johnson and added he should not resign despite him telling MPs she was in the country training journalists – a gaffe which could see her have her sentence doubled.
He said: 'I do not believe it is in Nazanin's interests for there to be any resignations'.
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was visiting her parents in Iran with her young daughter Gabriella when she was arrested by the Revolutionary Guard in Tehran Airport
Michael Gove said he was not sure what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratclife was doing in Iran before she was arrested by the Revolutionary Guard on suspicion of espionage
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 38, was seen by a specialist in Tehran on Saturday. The consultant said he thought the lumps were likely to be benign but added that some cancers were linked to stress, her husband said.
Her husband said he wanted him to keep his job because if he left it would cause instability which could damage his wife's case.
CORBYN CALLS FOR BORIS TO BE SACKED OVER IRAN BLUNDER
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, pictured today, has called for Boris Johnson to be sacked over the comments
Jeremy Corbyn is calling for Boris Johnson to be sacked from his post immediately as Foreign Secretary for 'putting citizens at risk'.
The Labour leader has launched a scathing attack on the former Mayor of London and is demanding the Prime Minister fire him with immediate effect.
This comes after Johnson made what has been described as an 'epic blunder' in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British woman currently imprisoned in Iran.
Mr Corbyn has added to the growing pressure May faces in dealing with Johnson, as members of his own party say his position should be reconsidered.
He said: 'We've put up with Johnson embarrassing and undermining our country with his incompetence and colonial throwback views and putting our citizens at risk for long enough. It's time for him to go.'
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also called for Mr Johnson to go over the blunder.
It comes as Michael Gove risked fuelling the problems for her by saying he does not know why she was in the country before her arrest.
Her husband said: 'New lumps had been identified in each of her breasts.
'Nazanin has been complaining of sharp stabbing pains in her breasts for some months – her breasts have been painful since month five of her detention.
'She had previously had been given an inconclusive mammography by the in-prison gynaecologist.'
He added: 'Nazanin notes that since her court appearance, she has been very angry for a number of days.
'Her mood has become uncontrollable. She loses her temper over the smallest things.
'Everything annoys her, but is unable to see why she gets so cross. Quick to feel like others are ganging up.
'She noted that she is very down, that she cannot handle all this. It is too much pressure, as she becomes part of hostile daily news.
'Nazanin reports feeling continually restless and out of focus, unable to concentrate on things like reading.
'This weekend she again suggested she is on the verge of a nervous breakdown – a perpetual sense of not knowing what to do.'
Mr Zaghari-Ratcliffe added: 'As her husband, my complaint is not that Nazanin's imprisonment has become a diplomatic incident this past week. It is that it wasn't for the 19 months before. I thank everyone for their part in making that shift.'
Mr Johnson's comments were seized upon by the Iranian judiciary who hailed her back before the court to face fresh propaganda charges and another five years behind bars.
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is pictured with her husband Richard who is desperate to see her back home with their three-year-old for Christmas
The 38-year-old from London is pictured with her husband Richard and their now three-year-old daughter Gabriella
The mother-of-one, 38, 'expressed anger' at Mr Johnson over the 'shambles' her case has become but her family said they do not believe the Foreign Secretary should quit.
Asked today what the British mother-of-one was doing in Iran, Environment Secretary Mr Gove said: 'I don't know.'
The remark risks casting doubt over the British mother-of-one's account of her time in Iran – even though the official Foreign Office position is she was visiting her family.
Mr Gove also defended his Cabinet colleague Boris Johnson, who is facing growing calls to be sacked as Foreign Secretary over his potentially costly gaffe.
It comes as Mr Johnson finally spoke to Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband today and agreed to meet with him either this week or next.
Jon Trickett MP, Labour's shadow minister for the Cabinet Office, said: 'Boris Johnson's cavalier approach to international diplomacy is compounded this morning by Michael Gove claiming he has no idea what Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was doing in Iran. It has always been clear, she was on holiday visiting her family.
Tory MP for Broxstowe, Anna Soubry, branded Mr Gove's comments a 'deeply concerning and irresponsible response'.
Mr Gove insisted Mr Johnson should not be ousted and suggested calls for him to go are a distraction from those who should be blamed for Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe's ordeal – the Iranians.
He told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: 'We know that the Iranian regime is capable of abusing the human rights of its own citizens.
'It appears here to be harming the human rights of someone whose plight necessarily moves us all.'
The 38-year-old from London is pictured with her husband Richard and their now three-year-old daughter Gabriella
Told that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her husband Richard insist she was in Iran with her young daughter Gabriella to visit her parents, Mr Gove said: 'In that case I take exactly her husband's assurance in that regard.'
Asked if he thought she was training journalists, he said: 'Well, her husband says that she was there on holiday, and he's the person who should know.
'Her family should be the people who are in our thoughts at this time.'
He said criticism of Mr Johnson was part of an 'effort to shift the blame away from those who are really at fault here, and that is the Iranian regime'.
And he refused to say the Foreign Secretary should apologise for his blunder.
He added: 'There is nothing the Iranian regime would like more than for the blame to be shifted from them onto us.
'And I think we make a big mistake if we blame politicians in a democracy who are trying to do the right thing for the plight of a woman who is being imprisoned by a regime that is a serial abuser of human rights.
'Who's in the dock here? Iran.'
He added: 'If the Iranian judiciary wants to use the words of a democrat in order to justify an unjustifiable decision, it is our responsibility to call them out.
'Whatever we as democrats say is going to be seized upon by extremists for their own purposes – and we play their game if we point the finger at democrats who are trying to do the right thing.'
Tory MP Anna Soubry joined in the condemnation of Michael Gove's comments branding them 'concerning and irresponsible'
Michael Gove rallied to the defence of his Cabinet colleague Boris Johnson, saying calls for him to be sacked over his blunder – which could cost Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe another five years in person – is a distraction form the real villains in the saga – the Iranians
'It appears Gove is more interested in protecting Johnson's job than the liberty of a British citizen in jail in Iran.
'Theresa May must ensure Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe does not pay the price for her ministers' bungling.'
Jeremy Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan have both called for Mr Johnson to be sacked over comments.
Speaking this morning, Mr Khan said: 'I think he has got to go.
'If Theresa May was a stronger Prime Minster she would have sacked him a long time ago.'
Mr Corbyn said: 'We've put up with Johnson embarrassing and undermining our country with his incompetence and colonial throwback views and putting our citizens at risk for long enough. It's time for him to go.'
Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard has demanded that Mr Johnson 'get on a plane' to meet his wife after his blunder.
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Australia: Scott Morrison saga casts scrutiny on Queen’s representative
In the past fortnight, Australia has been gripped by revelations that former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to several additional ministries.
The move has been labelled a “power grab” by his successor as prime minister, and Mr Morrison has been scolded by many – even his own colleagues.
But the scandal has also dragged Australia’s governor-general into the fray – sparking one of the biggest controversies involving the Queen’s representative in Australia in 50 years.
So does Governor-General David Hurley have questions to answer, or is he just collateral damage?
Governors-general have fulfilled the practical duties as Australia’s head of state since the country’s 1901 federation.
Candidates for the role were initially chosen by the monarch but are now recommended by the Australian government.
The job is largely ceremonial – a governor-general in almost every circumstance must act on the advice of the government of the day. But conventions allow them the right to “encourage” and “warn” politicians.
Key duties include signing bills into law, issuing writs for elections, and swearing in ministers.
Mr Hurley has run into trouble on the latter. At Mr Morrison’s request, he swore the prime minister in as joint minister for health in March 2020, in case the existing minister became incapacitated by Covid.
Over the next 14 months, he also signed off Mr Morrison as an additional minister in the finance, treasury, home affairs and resources portfolios.
Mr Morrison already had ministerial powers, so Mr Hurley was basically just giving him authority over extra departments.
It’s a request the governor-general “would not have any kind of power to override or reject”, constitutional law professor Anne Twomey tells the BBC.
“This wasn’t even a meeting between the prime minister and the governor-general, it was just paperwork.”
But Mr Morrison’s appointments were not publicly announced, disclosed to the parliament, or even communicated to most of the ministers he was job-sharing with.
Australia’s solicitor-general found Mr Morrison’s actions were not illegal but had “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.
But the governor-general had done the right thing, the solicitor-general said in his advice this week.
It would have been “a clear breach” for him to refuse the prime minister, regardless of whether he knew the appointments would be kept secret, Stephen Donaghue said.
Critics push for investigation
Ultimately, Mr Hurley had to sign off on Mr Morrison’s requests, but critics say he could have counselled him against it and he could have publicised it himself.
But representatives for the governor-general say these types of appointments – giving ministers the right to administer other departments – are not unusual.
And it falls to the government of the day to decide if they should be announced to the public. They often opt not to.
Mr Hurley himself announcing the appointments would be unprecedented. He had “no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated”, his spokesperson said.
Emeritus professor Jenny Hocking finds the suggestion Mr Hurley didn’t know the ministries had been kept secret “ridiculous”.
“The last of these bizarre, duplicated ministry appointments… were made more than a year after the first, so clearly by then the governor-general did know that they weren’t being made public,” she says.
“I don’t agree for a moment that the governor-general has a lot of things on his plate and might not have noticed.”
The historian says it’s one of the biggest controversies surrounding a governor-general since John Kerr caused a constitutional crisis by sacking Prime Minister Gough Whitlam in 1975.
Prof Hocking famously fought for transparency around that matter – waging a lengthy and costly legal battle that culminated in the release of Mr Kerr’s correspondence with the Queen.
And she says the same transparency is needed here.
The Australian public need to know whether Mr Hurley counselled the prime minister against the moves, and why he didn’t disclose them
The government has already announced an inquiry into Mr Morrison’s actions, but she wants it to look at the governor-general and his office too.
“If the inquiry is to find out what happened in order to fix what happened, it would be extremely problematic to leave out a key part of that equation.”
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – Mr Morrison’s predecessor – has also voiced support for an inquiry.
“Something has gone seriously wrong at Government House,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is the passive compliance along the chain… that did undermine our constitution and our democracy… that troubles me the most. This is how tyranny gets under way.”
PM defends governor-general
Prof Twomey says the criticism of Mr Hurley is unfair – there’s was no “conspiracy” on his part to keep things secret.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable for anyone to expect that he could have guessed that the prime minister was keeping things secret from his own ministers, for example.
“Nobody really thought that was a possibility until about two weeks ago.”
Even if he had taken the unprecedented step to publicise the appointments or to reject Mr Morrison’s request, he’d have been criticised, she says.
“There’d be even more people saying ‘how outrageous!'” she says. “The role of governor-general is awkward because people are going to attack you either way.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has also defended Mr Hurley, saying he was just doing his job.
“I have no intention of undertaking any criticism of [him].”
A role fit for purpose?
Prof Hocking says it’s a timely moment to look at the role of the governor-general more broadly.
She points out it’s possible the Queen may have been informed about Mr Morrison’s extra ministries when Australia’s parliament and people were not.
“It does raise questions about whether this is fit for purpose, as we have for decades been a fully independent nation, but we still have… ‘the relics of colonialism’ alive and well.”
Momentum for a fresh referendum on an Australian republic has been growing and advocates have seized on the controversy.
“The idea that the Queen and her representative can be relied upon to uphold our system of government has been debunked once and for all,” the Australian Republic Movement’s Sandy Biar says.
“It’s time we had an Australian head of state, chosen by Australians and accountable to them to safeguard and uphold Australia’s constitution.”
But Prof Twomey says republicans are “clutching at straws” – under their proposals, the head of state would also have been bound to follow the prime minister’s advice.
“It wouldn’t result in any changes that would have made one iota of difference.”
Australia election: PM Morrison’s security team in car crash in Tasmania
A car carrying the Australian prime minister’s security team has crashed in Tasmania during an election campaign visit.
Four police officers were taken to hospital with “non-life threatening injuries” after the car and another vehicle collided, authorities said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was not in the car, but the accident prompted him to cancel the rest of his campaign events on Thursday.
The other driver involved was not hurt.
Tasmania Police said initial investigations suggested the second car had “collided with the rear of the police vehicle, while attempting to merge”. It caused the unmarked security vehicle to roll off the road.
The two Tasmania Police officers and two Australian Federal Police officers were conscious when taken to hospital for medical assessment, the prime minister’s office said.
“Family members of the officers have been contacted and are being kept informed of their condition,” a statement said.
“The PM is always extremely grateful for the protection provided by his security team and extends his best wishes for their recovery and to their families.”
Australians go to the polls on 21 May. Mr Morrison – prime minister since 2018 – is hoping to win his conservative coalition’s fourth term in office.
Polls suggest the opposition Labor Party, led by Anthony Albanese, is favoured to win. However, Mr Morrison defied similar polling to claim victory at the last election in 2019.
Mr Morrison’s Liberal-National coalition holds 76 seats in the House of Representatives – the minimum needed to retain power.
Political observers say the cost of living, climate change, trust in political leaders, and national security will be among key issues in the campaign.
In recent weeks, the prime minister has faced accusations of being a bully and once sabotaging a rival’s career by suggesting the man’s Lebanese heritage made him less electable. Mr Morrison has denied the allegations.
Mr Albanese stumbled into his own controversy this week when he failed to recall the nation’s unemployment or interest rates.
Sydney airport warns delays could last weeks on third day of travel chaos
Long queues at Sydney airport’s domestic terminals have continued for a third day, with some passengers missing international connections, as the airport warns delays resulting from a surge in travellers and a shortfall in security staff could continue for weeks.
Chaotic scenes were reported in the departure halls as early as 4.30am on Saturday, with some frustrated travellers, many of whom heeded the pleas of airport chiefs to arrive at least two hours before their domestic flight was due to take off, claiming only one security line was operating.
While the queues that formed early on Saturday are understood to have cleared later in the morning, the airport apologised to affected travellers.
“Traffic numbers are picking up and the close contact rules are making it hard to fill shifts and staff the airport. We appreciate your patience,” Sydney airport said on its Twitter account.
A wave of families travelling as the term two school holidays begin this weekend, combined with close contact rules that are understood to be taking out about 20% of security shifts in any given day, are driving the problem.
Certis, the company that Sydney airport contracts for its security operations, is desperately trying to recruit personnel, while the airport has reallocated back office, IT and retail workers to the departure hall to comb queues so they can prioritise passengers at risk of missing their flight.
“We are working around the clock to resolve these issues and have teams in the terminals bringing passengers forward in order of priority,” a Sydney airport spokesperson said.
He added that the airport is “anticipating it will [be] busy right through the school holiday period and peak over the Easter and Anzac Day weekends, in some cases at 90% of pre-Covid passenger levels”.
“We’re deeply grateful to passengers for their ongoing patience and we’re sorry to everyone who has been inconvenienced,” the spokesperson said. “We would also like to thank passengers for getting to the airport early and treating staff and each other with kindness and respect.”
The Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce was forced to clarify comments he made on Friday that passengers were “not match fit” and that those forgetting to remove laptops and aerosols from their bags at the security check contributing to the delays.
“Just to be clear, I’m not ‘blaming’ passengers,” Joyce said. “Of course it’s not their fault,” he said.
Qantas shed thousands of staff during the pandemic, and outsourced ground crews in a decision that was challenged in court.
On Saturday, Qantas also apologised to a Melbourne family left stranded in Sydney, after domestic flight delays caused them to miss an international trip.
Javiera Martinez, her partner Daniel Capurro and their three children were supposed to be flying to Chile on Friday to visit relatives they had not seen in three years.
But after their 8am Qantas flight from Melbourne was delayed by half an hour, baggage handling and airport transfer delays in Sydney meant they couldn’t make their 11.30am LATAM Airlines flight to Santiago.
Martinez said the airline’s procedures at the airport were chaotic.
“We think Qantas didn’t behave appropriately. I got berated by the person at the counter – they never apologised, they never assumed any responsibility at all,” she said. “It was a rude conversation. We have been mistreated badly I would say.”
The PCR tests they need to travel have now expired and they will have to take them again as they wait for seats on the next flight to Santiago from Sunday.
The airline has apologised and paid for a night’s accommodation in Sydney.
“We sincerely apologise that the family missed their connecting flight on another airline due to delays moving through Sydney airport on Friday,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
The family is among many affected by hold ups amid the busiest travel period in two years, with Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane airports warning passengers to arrive two hours before domestic flights.
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