Liam Fox: Boris Johnson comments on British mother in Iranian jail were 'slip of the tongue'

Posted On: 
7th November 2017

Liam Fox has insisted Boris Johnson simply made a "slip of the tongue" when he claimed a British mother in an Iranian jail had been "teaching people journalism" in the country before her arrest.

Liam Fox (right) has come to the defence of his Brexit ally Boris Johnson
Credit: 
PA Images

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been warned she could face another five years behind bars following the Foreign Secretary's remark last week.

Mr Johnson has claimed his remarks, in evidence to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, have been misinterpreted and is to phone his Iranian counterpart in a bid to defuse the row.

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Critics have called on Theresa May to sack him - and PoliticsHome revealed last night how Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has urged Mr Johnson to resign if Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's sentence is increased.

But International Trade Secretary Dr Fox dismissed the outrage, and said Mr Johnson's opponents were "overreacting”. 

“We all make slips of the tongue, I think we've got to be careful that we're not overreacting to this," he told Radio 4's Today programme this morning.

“I think you have to understand the context in which he was speaking, which is the point that this detention is completely unacceptable to the British government.

"It is completely - in our view - illegal. And she should be released as soon as possible.” 

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard told the same programme that that Mr Johnson must "retract in Parliament" what he said last week.

Speaking yesterday, he said: “Nazanin was on holiday in Iran with Gabriella when she was abducted.

“Nazanin is not being held for anything she has personally done. It is deeply misleading by both governments to suggest or even half imply otherwise.

“We demand a clear statement from the Foreign Secretary to correct his mistake – in parliament and in Tehran at the earliest opportunity.”