Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband says important their daughter celebrates Christmas

Gabriella is excited about the festive season despite the absence of her mother, who is held in Iran since 2016

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of Iranian detainee Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, with their daughter Gabriella. PA

Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of detained mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, has said he wants their seven-year-old daughter to celebrate Christmas this year, the sixth one she spends away from her mother.

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, has been detained in Iran since her arrest in 2016 on charges of plotting to overthrow the government – allegations she has denied. She is currently under house arrest in Tehran after being released from prison, but is awaiting the start of a second jail term.

Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain with his daughter, Mr Ratcliffe admitted his wife found it hard being apart from them again at this time of year but said Gabriella was “properly excited” about the festive season.

“This is Christmas number six apart. Gabriella here, obviously a lot bigger now, is properly excited about Christmas. And I think actually after the year we’ve had as a family, but the country more broadly, it’s been quite important to celebrate it,” he said.

“It’s quite hard for Nazanin being away, she’s certainly been tearful these past couple of days. It’s the realisation that she’s stuck there and not able to come home, but I think it’s actually important to hold on to good times among journeys like ours.”

Last year, Gabriella wrote a letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asking him to bring back her mother for Christmas.

Asked what was on her list this year, Mr Ratcliffe said: “It’s quite a long list this year. I said: ‘You obviously want Mummy home?’ And she said: ‘Yeah, but not just that though.’

“Sylvanian Families have made it on. We do quite a bit of reworking our Christmas lists. I’m sure that happens in other houses where we don’t want to fix it just yet, so we’ve got the latest version.”

He said that recording a charity single for his wife with The Christians – who reworked their hit Man Don’t Cry as Naz Don’t Cry – had helped.

“Someone came up to us when I was doing the hunger strike and said: ‘Listen, the band The Christians are interested in re-working their single and releasing it’, and were we interested? And it was lovely, sitting on the pavement and not quite thinking straight,” he said.

“We went up to Liverpool after the hunger strike and had a lovely time with them in the studio, whacking on the drums and me trying to sing in tune.

“All of these things make a huge difference with keeping spirits up, just knowing that for however long this goes on for, people have not forgotten her.”

Updated: December 23rd 2021, 4:57 PM