New Forest East


[Mr Richard Bacon: I congratulate my hon. Friend [Oliver Dowden] on securing this debate about his constituent Mr Foroughi. He mentions that the right thing to do – purely on compassionate grounds, without any reference to the Iranian justice system – would be to release Mr Foroughi. Does he agree that, since Islam is a religion of compassion, releasing Mr Foroughi would also be the Islamic thing to do?

Oliver Dowden: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That approach has been taken by Mr Foroughi’s family. To put aside my earlier criticisms of the manner in which his trial was conducted, however the Iranian regime may dispute such criticisms, it really cannot dispute the compassionate and, as my hon. Friend says, the Islamic grounds for his release, which are that he is a very elderly man suffering from cancer.]

Dr Julian Lewis: I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend on putting forward this case so articulately. May I suggest that, as well as its being compassionate, humanitarian and Islamic, it would also be very diplomatic for the Iranian authorities to do this? They seem to be showing some sort of compassion towards Mrs Ratcliffe, about whom one of my constituents has written to me. It is important that the Iranians ​realise the extent of the coverage and awareness of these cases, and the positive signal this would send to this country and to many people here who are worried about such cases. If Iran really wishes to improve her relations with the United Kingdom, this would be a wonderful way of making an appropriate gesture.