Welcome home Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, released after six years imprisonment. The 43-year-old returned to the UK last week after the government settled a historical £400 million debt owed to Iran over a cancelled 1970s order for British tanks.
But it seems the mother-of-one is not done generating headlines yet, after she caused something of a stir yesterday with her comments at a press conference in parliament about her return from Iran. ‘How many foreign secretaries does it take for somebody to come home?’ she said. ‘What happened now should have happened six years ago.’
The drama of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s appearance in the Macmillan room though was nothing compared to what was going on outside the room. For Her Majesty’s press corps – those trusty seekers of truth – were in uproar about the seating arrangements for the British-Iranian’s first Q&A here in the UK.
Invitations to the appearance were sent out to only a select few on Sunday night, with other journos only learning about it on Monday morning. There then followed an undignified palaver as frustrated hacks sought to get into the room, which rapidly filled up in light of the historic significance of Zagahari-Ratcliffe’s return.
Confusion now reigns as to who is responsible for the mess. Zagahari-Ratcliffe or her local Labour MP, Tulip Siddiq, naturally have the right to organise a press conference with invites to a selected few. But is it really right for Commons bosses, invoking the authority of the Speaker, to shut out newspapers from parliamentary rooms for a public appearance?
The House of Commons declined to provide a comment. Let’s just hope such scenes aren’t repeated again – particularly given the irony of Zagahari-Ratcliffe’s return from a regime which bars freedom of the press…
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