THE sister-in-law of a British-Iranian woman, currently imprisoned in Iran on spying charges, has welcomed the foreign secretary’s proposal for diplomatic protection, which could secure her release from jail.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her daughter Gabriella were detained at an airport in Tehran as they planned to return on April 3, 2016.

Last week, Boris Johnson MP told the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) that Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the charity Reuters Thompson, the charitable arm of the news agency, had been training journalists.

Cwmbran GP Rebecca Ratcliffe said Mr Johnson’s apology was “positive” and was hoping for further diplomatic action

“For us as a family, it has never really been about an apology – it has been about actions,” said Dr Ratcliffe.

“He (Boris Johnson) spoke to my brother on Monday and it was quite a long but positive conversation.

“My brother and the minister are due to speak again in the next couple of days.”

Dr Ratcliffe added that the family had acknowledged that the political pressure by the government had increased, but here were still great unknowns.

“We have been campaigning for 19 months to have this recognised as a diplomatic issue,” she said.

“The government is behind Nazanin and wants to bring our girls home.

“The great unknown for us is how this will be treated in Iran.”

Speaking at the House of Commons on Monday, Mr Johnson said: “Of course I apologise for the distress and suffering that has been caused by the impression that I gave that the Government, and my belief that she was there in a professional capacity.

“I do apologise, and of course I retract any suggestion that she was there in a professional capacity.”

He added: “The house should bear in mind that Iran’s regime and no-one else has chosen to separate this mother from her infant daughter for reasons that even they find difficult to explain or describe.

“I shall travel to Iran myself later this year to review the full state of our bilateral relations and to drive home the strength of feeling in this house and the country at large about the plight of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and other consular cases.”

Both Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her daughter have had their British passports confiscated since their detainment at the airport.

In June of last year, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe was charged with being ‘one of the ring leaders in efforts planning the overthrow of the Islamic regime through projects involving the media and social media, working under the direction of media companies and espionage networks belonging to foreign governments.’

Since then, the mother-of-one has had an appeal for her release rejected by the Supreme Court of Iran - which took place roughly a year after her initial capture.

Gabriella is currently living with her grandparents in Tehran and has now lost the ability to speak English, making communication difficult with her father.

Regarding her now-three-year-old niece, Gabriella, Dr Ratcliffe was remaining hopeful of a resolution so the family could be reunited after almost two years apart for one another.

“She has spent 19 months away from her mummy and daddy and that would be hard for any little girl,” said the Cwmbran GP.

“She needs her mum and dad.”