Who is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband? Meet Richard Ratcliffe and their daughter Gabriella

Everything to know

Nazanin zaghari-ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe outside 10 Downing Street
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

As she gets ready to share her story in a new documentary, we give details of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband and the tireless campaigning he did to push for his wife's safe return. 

It was a long-running case that saw a mother separated from her child and a wife separated from her husband. Many would be hard pushed not to feel sympathy for the six-year saga British-Iranian citizen Nazanin Zaghair-Ratcliffe endured. Beginning after a family trip to Iran in April 2016, the 45-year-old wouldn't find herself back on UK soil again until March 2022.

We share details of Nazanin's loved ones - husband Richard and daughter Gabriella - and how they were involved in the lengthy plight.

Who is Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's husband Richard Ratcliffe?

Richard Ratcliffe is an accountant who campaigned for his wife's release from Iran. The 47-year-old launched an online petition and underwent two hunger strikes in the six years that Nazanin was detained, putting pressure on the government to secure her release.

A month on from Nazanin's arrest (3 April 2016), Richard founded an online petition asking for "our Prime Minister Boris Johnson to use his power and intervene" in the safe return of his wife. The petition received 3.8 million signatures and went on to inform campain Free Nazanin online.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe sat in front of microphones at a press conference in March 2022.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe at the press conference following her return to the UK.

(Image credit: Getty)

In June 2019, Richard and Nazanin went on hunger strike to draw attention to Nazanin's imprisonment. Richard camped outside the Iranian Embassy in London demanding action. Nazanin meanwhile remained behind bars. The first hunger strike lasted 15 days. 

In late October 2021, Richard began a second hunger strike outside the Foreign Office, putting pressure on the government to end Nazanin's detainment. Ratcliffe wanted then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson to meet with Iranian delegates whilst at the COP26 climate summit and work on getting Nazanin out of Iran. 

He ended the protest after 21 days, based on a promise to his wife, stating that their child "needs two parents".

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The government in the meantime assured they were doing everything they could to get Nazanin released. In February the following year, it was reported that a deal had been made between the UK and Iran that had secured her release for summer 2022.  Days later Nazanin was told that the arrangement had fallen through, leaving her "very, very angry" and disappointed by the government's "lack of urgency".

Nazanin was eventually freed on March 16, 2022, returning to the UK a day later. Her release date occurred on the same day that Britain repaid an outstanding debt of £393.8 million to Iran. 

Nazanin's husband and the Free Nazanin campaign has long alleged that his wife's imprisonment was based on this debt payment, with her jail time leverage to get the UK to pay the outstanding sum. The legal dispute relates to a 1976 agreement that Britain would supply Tehran with tanks. However, when the Iranian government at the time collapsed, the UK cancelled the order. Iran spent four decades asking for a refund, before the issue was settled in 2022.

Downing Street have always insisted that there is no link between the dispute and the Foreign Office's efforts to get Nazanin home.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was first sentenced to five years in prison in early September 2016 for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Iranian government. Her sentence ended on March 7, 2021 - but a new case was brought against her by Iranian authorities in September the year prior. On April 26, 2021, Nazanin was found guilty of "propaganda against the Islamic Republic" and received a one year prison sentence, which additionally banned her from leaving Iran during this time. 

Upon news of her release and what the future held for the couple, Richard told the Independent: "We need to learn to enjoy the jam in life, the simple things. We need to not let the bad stuff define us.

"The happily ever after is a journey not an arrival. But we will get there with patience and love."

Does Nazanin have a child?

Yes, Nazanin and Richard share eight-year-old daughter Gabriella. She was just 22-months-old when her mother was arrested in April 2016. Gabriella's British passport was confiscated and she was prevented from returning to the UK.

Gabriella stayed with her Iranian grandparents - Nazanin's mother and father - in the aftermath. She was initially able to visit her mother in prison once a week.

Recalling Gabriella's state at the time, dad Richard told the Observer in 2017: "She would wake up in the night, crying. She kept going to the door and pointing at photos of us, asking her grandparents for her mummy and daddy – particularly her mummy. 

"The first visit she had with Nazanin in prison, she didn’t say anything. She just sat on Nazanin’s lap, stroking her face for 15 minutes and looking at her, not quite believing she was there."

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In August 2019, Nazanin's prison conditions changed. According to her husband, Nazanin was no longer allowed to make international calls and was told she could only see her daughter Gabriella just once a month.

A few months later, in October 2019, Gabriella returned to the UK to live. Now aged five, it was agreed by the couple for her to reunite with her dad in London so she could start school.

It wasn't until three years later that Nazanin was reunited with her daughter and husband. Gabriella chatted about looking forward to "playing games with mummy". 

Reflecting on the reunion in June 2022, Richard told GQ: "Nazanin went shopping, and took Gabriella, now seven, to the park, and together they repainted their daughter’s bedroom, and made a space for her toys. 

"They pinned Gabriella’s art to her bedroom door," he continued. "When Nazanin was in prison, she’d draw pictures of her mother and father, getting married. Now she’s home, Gabriella draws pictures of her favourite animals instead."

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband and child

The family pose at 10 Downing Street after a meeting with then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May 13, 2022.

(Image credit: Getty)

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.