Two prisoners deny attempted murder of Sarah Payne's killer in jail

Two prisoners deny attempted murder of schoolgirl Sarah Payne’s killer Roy Whiting in maximum security jail

  • Kevin Hyden and Richard Prendergast accused of trying to kill Richard Whiting
  • Both also face a second charge of maliciously wounding him with intent
  • The incident took place at HMP Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on November 8, 2018

Two prisoners have denied the attempted murder of Sarah Payne’s killer in a maximum security jail.

Kevin Hyden and Richard Prendergast are accused of trying to kill Roy Whiting at HMP Wakefield, West Yorkshire, on November 8, 2018.

They both also face a second charge of unlawfully and maliciously wounding him with intent to cause grievous bodily harm on the same day.

Kevin Hyden (left) and Richard Prendergast (right) are accused of the attempted murder of Sarah Payne’s killer at HMP Wakefield in November 2018

Roy Whiting (pictured), of Crawley, Sussex, abducted and murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah Payne in July 2000

Hyden, 40, and Prendergast, 39, appeared at Leeds Crown Court via video link on Friday where they denied both charges.

A five-day trial is scheduled to begin at the court on September 7.

Judge Tom Bayliss QC told the men that they would remain in custody until their trials took place.

Whiting was jailed for life in December 2001 for the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne (pictured)

HMP Wakefield (pictured) is a Category A jail and home to some of the country’s most notorious convicts, including former Lost Prophets frontman Ian Watkins

Whiting, of Crawley, Sussex, abducted and murdered eight-year-old schoolgirl Sarah Payne in July 2000.

He was jailed for life in December 2001.

HMP Wakefield is a Category A jail and home to some of the country’s most notorious convicts, including former Lost Prophets frontman Ian Watkins.  

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'Vile' woman spared jail over drunken assault on hospital nurse

‘Vile’ drunken woman, 22, is spared jail after punching police officer and leaping over A&E reception desk to assault nurse, destroy computer and threaten to ‘stab staff with knives and forks’

  • Jamie Tompkins, was arrested over her drunken behaviour but taken to A&E
  • Nurse at Queen Alexandra Hospital Portsmouth tried to treat her for injuries
  • She jumped over reception desk and destroyed computer before making threats

A ‘vile’ woman who launched a violent drunken assault on a nurse and police officer, causing havoc in a hospital A&E has been spared jail.

Jamie Tompkins, 22, had been picked up by police while drunk in Portsmouth, Hampshire, before she punched PC Benjamin White. 

She had to be taken to the Queen Alexandra Hospital after an old injury she had started to bleed.

When she got there she leaped over the reception desk, destroyed a computer and assaulted nurse Debbie Johnstone. 

She threatened to stab other members of staff with ‘knives and forks’ before she was restrained, Portsmouth Magistrates Court was told. 

Tompkins, of Portsmouth, was given a 16-week prison sentence suspended for two months for two counts of assaulting an emergency worker, threatening abuse and behaviour with intent to cause violence and criminal damage.    

Jamie Tompkins, 22, is seen leaving Portsmouth Magistrates Court this week after being spared jail for an assault on a police officer and a nurse 

The officer in charge of the case, PC Simon Collins, told magistrates this week: ‘Tompkins’ behaviour that night was vile towards two members of hospital staff who were simply trying to help her.’

Prosecutor Lucy Linington said: ‘She jumped over the reception desk causing damage to a printer and a computer screen. She then proceeded to assault nurse Debbie Johnstone.’

The court heard Tompkins swore at Johnstone during the Boxing Day assault before ‘threatening to stab’ staff member Patricia Smith with ‘knives and forks’.

In a victim statement Ms Johnstone, who has worked Queen Alexandra Hospital for 16 years, said ‘it was the worst behaviour she had ever seen’.

Tompkins destroyed a staff computer at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth (pictured)

A printer was also damaged at the hospital after she leaped over the desk and assaulted a nurse

Portsmouth NHS Trust chief executive Mark Cubbon wrote a letter to the court to explain the damaging impact of violence on staff.

In the letter, he said: ‘It is never acceptable to assume that assaults upon our NHS staff should be tolerated; it is not simply ‘part of the job’.

‘The nature of our work requires members of staff to deal with difficult, emotional, challenging and sensitive situations. Assaults upon them are serious and unacceptable.

‘On a personal basis, staff suffer not just physical injuries, but also the psychological effects.

‘Many who have been assaulted subsequently find the prospect of dealing with patients challenging or traumatic.’ 

She must pay £400 in compensation with £100 each to PC White and Ms Johnstone, and £200 to the hospital for the NHS equipment damaged.

Tompkins (pictured) must pay £400 in compensation with £100 each to PC White and Ms Johnstone, and £200 to the hospital for the NHS equipment damaged

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Brooklyn Afghanistan veteran calls US-Taliban deal ‘a positive maneuver’

James Fitzgerald, 34, was a sergeant in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan from May 2010 to November 2010, when he was wounded in a firefight with terrorists in Kunar Province. The Brooklynite, now deputy director of NYC Veterans Alliance, spoke to The Post’s Eileen AJ Connelly on the US-Taliban deal.

My military journey began in 2005. It was a time at which the country was calling, and I signed up at the age of 19. I wanted to deploy.

I deployed to Iraq in 2007, and saw combat there over 15 months. It was one of those experiences that opened my eyes to foreign affairs and the US role in the world.

I transferred to the 101st Airborne in 2009, and deployed to Afghanistan in May 2010, on mission in the Kunar Province.

Now we’re finally signing a peace arrangement with the Taliban.

This is a step in the right direction, and will help to close a chapter that has long needed to be written. I say that as a veteran and someone who has been in consultation with the military community.

A military solution is not what is needed there now. This is more of a diplomatic situation. This peace agreement is in the best interests of the Taliban, the Afghan government and the US government. It’s in everyone’s interest to uphold the stipulations of this deal.

I am in support of the Afghan people, and I’m in support of the men and women that wear the uniform in defense of our country. That is what the peace deal is for, and that’s where the focus should be. I think it’s going to be a welcome and positive maneuver.

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Hollywood studios create coronavirus strategy teams

Hollywood studios create coronavirus strategy teams to assess the business ramifications of the disease as movie promotions in China have been cancelled

  • Hollywood studios have assembled coronavirus strategy teams amid the disease’s continual global spread
  • They’ve been tasked with figuring out how to keep employees overseas in infected countries safe
  • Teams are also assessing business ramifications as several theaters in China and other countries have closed
  • China movie premieres for film’s like Disney’s Mulan and James Bond No Time To Die have been cancelled 
  • Executives fear the coronavirus could result in billions of dollars in lost box office ticket sales worldwide  

Hollywood studios have assembled coronavirus strategy teams as the disease’s continual spread across the globe has devastated efforts to launch movies and TV shows internationally.  

Variety reports that most of the major studios have created advisory teams made of members of production, finance, marketing and human resources to asses the potential ramifications.

Part of their job is to figure out how staff stationed in different countries can remain safe from infection. 

Thus far, one solution encourages people in places with a high number of infections to work from home and another has been to make sure adequate technology to do so is available. 

Major Hollywood studios have assembled coronavirus strategy teams to asses how best to navigate the new disease with international colleagues 

Coronavirus, which has infected more than 83,000 people and killed more than 2,800 people, has caused Hollywood studios to delay work trips and left them trying to navigate promotional campaigns for several upcoming blockbusters. 

Countries like China, Japan, South Korea and Italy are among those places work trips have been stalled. 

This comes as President Donald Trump added travel restrictions to Italy and Iran after the first coronavirus patient of the U.S. died. 

Studios have already dropped plans for China film premiers like Disney’s Mulan and the upcoming James Bond installment No Time to Die – a move that could cost these studios millions in box office revenue. 

Mulan, a $200 million film with a cast of Asian actors, was expected to do well in markets like China, but won’t be shown for weeks or months. 

Other studios are watching how Disney handles the debut when theaters in some countries have been shut down during the health scare and people are hesitant to be near others in public spaces. 

Upcoming movies like Disney’ Mulan (left) and the James Bond installment No Time to Die (right) have already cancelled their film debuts in China admid the coronavirus 

The Bond franchise originally planned to do promotions in China, South Korea and Japan, but those plans have been axed.  

Sony’s sports drama Blood Sport was also expected to play in China, but a formal release date is still pending. 

The majority of these films hadn’t gotten the OK from Chinese officials to play the films yet, but the mounting health concerns make this even more unlikely. 

Delays may also be expected in Italy, where infected cases have exceeded 1,000 and 29 deaths. 

As of now, no major films are scheduled to debut over the weekend. 

No studios have issued a public response to the coronavirus, Variety said, but in private they are taking a ‘a wait-and-see’ attitude. 

Studio executives fear the the coronavirus could result in billions of dollars lost in box office ticket sales

Several are in contact with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization as they determine their next steps.  

Simultaneously, these studios are still debating on the on what potentially postponing a series of blockbuster movies could do business wise in 2020 and 2021. 

Executives reportedly believe that theater closures in China and Italy, in addition to coronavirus’ entry in South Korea, could mean billions of dollars lost in ticket sales.    

Studios like Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal and Disney are still expected to attend CinemaCon along with the stars of upcoming movies. 

On the other hand, studios from China have pulled out from the industry event scheduled for March over travel restrictions. 

CinemaCon officials  released a statement this week assuring that the event will still see a high attendance. 

In the U.S., stock indexes plunged dramatically yet again on Thursday, as the rapid spread of the coronavirus outside China deepens investor worries about growth and corporate earnings.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted 1,190.95 points, or 4.42 percent, to 25,766.64, the largest one-day point drop in history. It comes during the quickest market plunge on a percentage basis since the financial crisis of October 2008.

Trader Peter Tuchman reacts at the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday as the Dow opens down another 500 points and the market enters correction territory

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all closed more than 10 percent below their recent highs. That means the market is officially in a correction, which is a normal phenomenon that analysts have said was long overdue.

Adding to worries, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed an infection in California in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient.

‘In the recent week, markets have come to realize that the outbreak is much worse and are now realistically pricing in the impact of the virus on the economy,’ said Philip Marey, senior U.S. strategist at Rabobank.

‘In that sense it’s a bit of a catching up from the relative optimism that was there in the beginning when markets thought (the virus) will be contained to China with some minor outbreak outside.’

Traders work during the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. About five minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 percent 

Rising fears of a pandemic, which U.S. health authorities have warned is likely, have erased about $1.84 trillion off the benchmark S&P 500 this week alone.

On Saturday, the Trump administration confirmed that a woman in her 50s died of coronavirus in King County, Washington. 

So far more than 60 cases have been identified in the U.S. with 84,128 cases of the virus around the world.  

The woman returned to King County on February 23 and went to work in Seattle the following day.

She began showing symptoms of the disease Tuesday and reported them to health officials before being tested for the virus Thursday.

Her results came back positive Friday.

Officials said she is improving without any complications and her and her husband are under quarantine at home.

On Saturday, officials confirmed that a woman in her 50s died of coronavirus in King County, Washington 

These two Washington state cases now take the US coronavirus infection toll up to 66.

The announcement came soon after Oregon health officials on Friday confirmed they had a patient who tested positive for the disease in a case of ‘community spread’.

This is the first coronavirus case altogether in Oregon and the first instance of ‘community transmission’ outside California.

The individual is from Washington County and is employed at Forest Hills Elementary School in Lake Oswego.

Officials said at a press conference Friday that it is feared that the individual may have exposed students and staff to the virus.


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Army would follow US withdrawal from Afghanistan

All Australian troops could be out of Afghanistan within 14 months after the US and the Taliban signed a historic peace agreement.

Australia, along with other coalition forces, will follow the US in any troop withdrawal from the country, but there are still further negotiations to come that could derail the deal.

An Australian Special Operations Task Group soldier in Afghanistan.

US President Donald Trump said it was "time to bring our people back home" after the US signed the deal with the Taliban, which sets into motion the potential for a full withdrawal of coalition troops.

The US and NATO allies have agreed to withdraw all troops within 14 months if the Taliban upholds its side of the deal, which includes a "a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire".

A full withdrawal would mark the end of a near two-decade war in which 41 Australian troops have been killed.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Australia welcomed any peace agreement after "a lot of effort" had been put in over the years since coalition forces entered the country in 2001.

Brighter future

“Australians have fought alongside our allies for many years in an effort to provide a brighter future for Afghanistan," Mr Dutton told the ABC's Insiders program.

“It's been an incredibly important effort and if there are troop withdrawals and we'll work that out with the United States, but obviously the Taliban need to abide with any conditions on such agreement.

“If there's a withdrawal of coalition troops, we'll do that in line with consultations with the United States, the UK and our Five Eyes partners."

Asked whether he was comfortable with the Taliban being back in power, Mr Dutton said: “Well, I'm comfortable if people aren't being slaughtered and attacked and that young girls can go to school.

“And this will be part of the discussion and as you say we want to make sure that the Taliban and others abide by the conditions and the intent of the agreement. But we'll wait for the detail.”

Security benefits

Mr Dutton said the long-running war had taken its toll but there had been benefits for Australia's national security in staying in the country for the past two decades.

“We always mark the loss of any Australian soldier in any conflict – their families still live with that pain today – but for us, there are important equities in the Middle East," Mr Dutton said.

"We have done an enormous amount in terms of intelligence-collection in Afghanistan, in Iraq, elsewhere, across Syria for example, and the collection of that intelligence has stopped terrorist attacks taking place in the West including in Australia, in Indonesia and elsewhere. So there are many facets to our involvement in the conflict."

The agreement, which followed more than a year of negotiations, lays out a timetable for the final withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

The deal hinges on tricky further negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government over the future of the country, including the possibility of a power-sharing arrangement and permanent ceasefire.

Mr Trump said he believed the Taliban wanted to "do something to show that we're not all wasting time".

"If bad things happen, we'll go back," he said.

"I'll be meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the not too distant future and will be very much hoping that they will be doing what they say.

"They will be killing terrorists. They will be killing some very bad people. They will keep that fight going."

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Paedophile Jeffrey Epstein installed a TEN-PERSON shower for orgies on his Caribbean island, witness claims – The Sun

SEX predator Jeffrey Epstein installed a TEN-PERSON shower for orgies on his Caribbean island and filled the walls of the bathroom with pictures of naked girls.

Steve Scully, 70, who maintained the phone lines and internet on Little St James, also told The Sun On Sunday how the billionaire would shuttle in topless girls by helicopter.

The former IT contractor sensationally revealed last week how he allegedly saw Prince Andrew groping and kissing sex slave Virginia Roberts on Epstein’s island.

Today Steve lifts the lid on the warped ex-Wall Street banker’s lair on Little St James – including his perverted penchant for naked young girls.

Steve said: “In the years I worked there, Epstein remodelled his bedroom four times.

“He went all the way from a French provincial mahogany look with a huge four poster bed and gorgeous antiques to a neo-modern look.

“He put in a ten-showerhead shower – for group showers.

“There were more pictures in the bathroom than anywhere else – including of young, barely clothed or semi-nude girls.”

Father-of-three Steve, who lives on St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands, claimed he saw Andrew, 60, pawing at Virginia sometime between 2001 and 2004.


His stunning testimony made him the first independent witness to place the prince on Epstein's island with Virginia – who claims she had sex with Andrew three times as a teen.

Prince Andrew has strenuously denied having any sexual contact with her.

Steve today reveals how Epstein would have his Boeing 727 – nicknamed the Lolita Express – park at the private terminal in St Thomas and take young girls to his island by helicopter.

He said: “At least three times I saw helicopter land on the island and two or three very young-looking girls get out.”

Another time he arrived at one of Epstein’s favourite beaches on the island and the financier was with three girls who were all topless.

On one other occasion, Steve was at the boat dock and there were five young girls standing in bikini tops who he was told were Victoria’s Secret models.

He said Epstein – who kept stacks of Mixed Martial Arts DVDs by his bed – would order dozens of white polo shirts that he would wear once, then give to staff to cut up into cleaning rags.

Steve also told of several shock encounters with alleged Epstein enabler Ghislaine Maxwell, which she has denied.

He was called to fix a telecommunications problem on the Caribbean hideaway on Christmas Eve in 2000, which involved him working eight straight hours.

He said that Maxwell then tried to give him a reward.

Steve said: “She carefully folded up a $100 bill and put it in the top pocket of my shirt, then moved in and planted a kiss on my cheek.

“I was shocked but stood up to her. I took the bill out of my pocket saying: ‘I don’t take tips’. She looked a little taken aback.”

He had another encounter with Maxwell at Epstein’s estate office in the Red Hook area of St Thomas, from where staff boats would cross daily to Little St James.

The final straw for Steve came when Epstein’s pool hand came down from Palm Beach.

Steve said: “The pool guy asked me: ‘Would you let your daughters visit the island?’

“I said I wouldn’t let my kids within five miles of Jeffrey. As soon as he raised this, I thought: ‘I’ve got to leave this place’. The next day I quit.”

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Rita Ora wears face mask with Space Invaders symbols on return to London after flying in from LA – The Sun

RITA Ora donned a face mask on her return to London after arriving on a plane from Los Angeles.

The Let You Love Me singer was spotted in a mask with a Space Invader design and a baseball cap as she walked through Heathrow Airport on Friday.

The mask she wore can be bought online for £25 (pounds) and is called a Vogmask.

Singer Ora, 29, has been living in the Californian city for the last three months.

Writing on her Instagram yesterday, she said: “I can’t wait to start touring again next month.”

Her arrival came after the Sun revealed she and Rafferty Law, 23, have put their relationship on hold.

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Insiders say Carranza’s secret ‘Academic Response Team’ squandered millions

A secretive new program by Chancellor Richard Carranza to boost underperforming schools stumbled badly out of the gate and squandered millions, educators say.

In September, the city Department of Education quietly launched the “Academic Response Team,” a group of 69 six-figure staffers with a $10 million budget, The Post has learned. Officials say it is one of several programs to follow Mayor Bill de Blasio’s three-year, $773 million “Renewal Program” for struggling schools, which was deemed a failure.

The ART is led by senior director Clarence Williams Jr., who makes $161,364 a year, the DOE said.

Williams has two deputies, called “leads” — and a third to be hired — working under him at DOE headquarters. One of them is Ben Sherman, the ex-principal of Forest Hills High School, who left the school in June 2019 after his faculty complained the building reeked of pot and voted “no confidence” in him. He now makes $173,693 a year.

Those top officials oversee nine ART directors in borough or citywide offices.

The directors supervise 56 ART “specialists” dispatched to schools to coach teachers in subjects where test scores are lagging or have dropped.

The program came to a crashing halt for nearly the first three months of the school year after the principals’ union complained it was dumped on them without warning, insiders said.

The specialists sat in offices with nothing to do for nearly three months while the DOE worked out a deal with the principals’ union.

One principal called the program a waste of money that should be spent directly on kids’ classroom educators.

“All these new initiatives are completely ludicrous and absurd. That money could be better spent on kids,” the principal said. “I have five children that require a one-on-one paraprofessional in their IEP (special-education plan). They have not given me the funding for those paras.”

Principals were also taken aback by the lack of coordination and cooperation.

“They couldn’t just show up like a SWAT team,” a union source said.

“I’m not going to have somebody come into my building, put me under a microscope and tell me what to do,” a Brooklyn principal told The Post.

One colleague told a specialist who couldn’t explain the purpose of the visit to leave, the principal said.

The DOE finally agreed to schedule the ART visits, and send just one or two instead of a group.

Even now, with the program finally off the ground, Carranza’s vision remains fuzzy, staffers say.

“They hired all these people and they haven’t been able to map out a school improvement strategy,” a specialist told The Post. “We’re all very confused. There are no directives.”

The specialists visit each school two to three days a week for six to eight weeks, and come up with an assistance plan with the principal.

“Some schools are in such disarray. What can we do in six weeks?” the specialist asked. “It’s not what we signed up for.”

Linda Chen, Carranza’s chief academic officer, came from Boston Public Schools, where an Academic Response Team sends veteran educators into low-performing schools for two-month periods to coach teachers.

Some staffers think the program was first meant to be run by Abram Jimenez, Carranza’s friend he recruited from California, who joined the DOE in September 2018. Jimenez was named “senior executive director for continuous school improvement” with a $205,416 salary and a staff of 40.

But Jimenez abruptly quit in July 2019 following reports in The Post about his disciplinary history and a financial stake in a vendor doing millions in business with the DOE.

A DOE spokeswoman said ART was a different program, but did not explain what happened to Jimenez’s 40 staffers.

In February 2019, Carranza announced the DOE had ended the Renewal Program. but would launch a new approach called “Comprehensive School Support,” Chalkbeat reported. A DOE spokeswoman did not explain that happened to that concept.

Williams and other ART staffers did not return requests to discuss the program.

DOE officials denied the program is top-heavy or wasteful.

“When schools need to improve their instruction, we send support. This is a common-sense strategy that schools and districts use across the country,” said spokeswoman Danielle Filson.

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Eight thousand extra cops to be armed with ‘life-saving’ Taser guns – The Sun

EIGHT thousand extra cops will be equipped with electric stun guns to help protect them from violent offenders.

Forces will receive ring-fenced cash to purchase more than 50,000 volt tasers to fend off attackers.

The new equipment will form part of bobbies’ armoury which also includes handcuffs, CS Spray, batons and body armour.

It forms part of a £10million fund from the Home Office to empower cops with money available to train more cops on how to deploy them.Applications were based on threats and risks in their areas as Police and Crime Commissioners outlined their demands.

The Metropolitan Police will receive 2,382 tasers with Lancashire receiving 380 and Merseyside 310.

A further £3.3million from remaining from the fund will help tackle serious violence and county lines.

But human rights group Liberty have warned that arming more officers risks “escalating rather than reducing” violence on the streets.

Northamptonshire Police chief Nick Adderley last year spoke of the “worrying” level of violence towards police officers.He added: “I’ve made the prediction that, probably within the next three years, Tasers will be considered as personal protective equipment and it would be issued alongside batons, gas and ‘cuffs.”

The move follows a Tory manifesto commitment to increase the number of police officers by 20,000 over three years.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Our brave police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all and Taser is a vital option in dangerous situations.This funding forms part of our commitment to ensure forces have the powers, resources and tools they need to keep themselves and the public safe.”

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Taser is an essential piece of equipment which has saved many police officers from serious injury or worse.

“I have campaigned for ring fenced funding for more colleagues to have access to Taser and it’s refreshing that the Home Secretary has listened and acted.

“Policing is dangerous and unpredictable, my colleagues need all the support they can get and I hope this extra funding will make a difference.”


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Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe may have coronavirus in Iranian prison

Husband of jailed mother Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe believes she has contracted coronavirus in Iranian prison as he reveals concerns at ‘refusal to test her’

  • Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is being refused testing for coronavirus in prison 
  • Husband Richard said the mother-of-one had a cold sweat and nausea
  • He called on the Government’s help, and for Boris Johnson to ‘take charge’ 
  • Last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg poured scorn on Iranian denials of virus outbreak
  • Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe was jailed by the Iranian regime in Tehran in April 2016 
  • She was accused of plotting a coup, and given a five-year jail sentence

The husband of jailed British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe believes his wife has contracted coronavirus and has slammed the prison’s ‘refusal to test her’. 

Richard Ratcliffe says that mother-of-one Nazanin, 41, has repeatedly asked prison guards at Evin jail in Tehran to test her for the killer super virus.  

She told her family in a phone call: ‘For a long time this has not felt like a normal cold. These symptoms have lasted almost a week.

‘I know I need to get medicine to get better. This does not go magically.’

The British Foreign Office has now called on the Iranian regime to ‘immediately allow’ health professionals into the prison to assess dual nationals.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe (pictured) has repeatedly asked prison guards at Evin jail in Tehran to test her for coronavirus, her husband Richard said

Although there are currently no confirmed cases at the prison, Covid-19 has spread rapidly across Iran, with at least 43 dead amid 593 patients identified. 

In an update issued through the Free Nazanin Campaign, Mr Ratcliffe said his wife had seen ‘no improvement’, and called on the Government for help.

He also called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘to take charge’ and ensure that British-Iranian dual nationals held in Evin are ‘diplomatically protected’.

Following reports of conditions at the prison yesterday, Mr Ratcliffe said a new batch of disinfectants, gloves, and masks were made available to the ward.

‘We are concerned by the prison authorities’ refusal to test her and the wider suppression of coronavirus inside the Iranian prison system,’ he said. 

In an update issued through the Free Nazanin Campaign today, Mr Ratcliffe (pictured) said his wife had seen ‘no improvement’ and called on the Government for help 

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: ‘We are urgently seeking information from the Iranian authorities on reports that coronavirus is spreading in Evin prison, including to British-Iranian dual nationals.

‘We call on the Iranian Government to immediately allow health professionals into Evin prison to assess the situation of British-Iranian dual nationals there.’  

Writing for the i newspaper, Mr Ratcliffe said: ‘On Monday we heard reports of cases, on Tuesday of a ward evacuated as a quarantine area.

‘By Wednesday there were rumours of prisoners losing their life, as there had been in other prisons across the country. By Thursday, the judiciary was announcing plans to send eligible prisoners home temporarily.’ 

He also called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson ‘to take charge’ and ensure that British-Iranian dual nationals held in Evin are ‘diplomatically protected’ (pictured with daughter Gabriella)

Jacob Rees-Mogg said the Government was not convinced by the hardline regime’s denials that the global pandemic was affecting inmates at its punishing Evin penitentiary

Mr Radcliffe also described Iran’s initial response to the virus as a ‘bravado’ and ‘a refusal to acknowledge the extent of the problem’. 

Last week, Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would ‘not always take as authoritative’ official Iranian denials of any outbreak of coronavirus at the prison. 

Commons Leader Mr Rees-Mogg told the House: ‘It is a particular concern that the coronavirus has been rumoured – but I emphasise rumoured and not confirmed – to be in the prison in Evin where Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe is.

‘The UK Ambassador to Iran has raised this with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and we’re in contact with our international partners on this issue.   

‘The Iranian authorities have denied this at the moment, but I must confess I for one would not always take as authoritative denials issued by the Iranian Government.’

He added: ‘The [UK] Government is trying to do what it can in this very serious issue.’

Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was arrested at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport while travelling to show her young daughter, Gabriella, to her parents in April 2016.

She was sentenced to five years in prison over allegations, which she denies, of plotting to overthrow the regime. She was later afforded diplomatic protection by the British Government, which argues that she is innocent and that her treatment by Iran failed to meet obligations under international law.

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