Rhodes on holiday flights and something missing from that BBC interview

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Emma Barnett and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe
Emma Barnett and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Throughout her six-year captivity Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was often described in the media as a “charity worker”. You may have got the impression that she looked after the bric-a-brac corner in her local Oxfam shop, or perhaps collected for guide dogs. Not exactly.

Iran-born Zaghari-Ratcliffe is a passionate campaigner for human rights and despises the Iranian regime. Before her arrest she worked in London for two charities committed to spreading free, liberal Western journalism across the world. The first was BBC Media Action, whose mission statement declared: "We use the power of media and communication to help reduce poverty and support people in understanding their rights." The second was Thomson Reuters Foundation, which proclaims: “We help independent journalists and their news organisations under threat from anti-democratic governments to keep publishing.”

We in the West may applaud such principles but the mad mullahs in Tehran certainly do not. They never seriously believed Zaghari-Ratcliffe was a spy but may have regarded her as a troublemaker, an enemy - and the perfect hostage.

This week's much-praised BBC interview with Emma Barnett made no mention of either of the organisations Zaghari-Ratcliffe worked for. In fact it told us nothing about her professional life at all. This seems positively bizarre in view of the fact that Thomson/Reuters value her so highly that they kept her job open and even promoted her while she was in jail. Surely that's worth reporting, Auntie Beeb? Or are we not supposed to mention this elephant in the room?

The view in Moscow that the Ukrainians are fighting so well “because they're really Russians” rings a bell. I was reminded of a historian who pointed out that while Britain's Hanoverian kings originated in north Germany, George Washington's family came from Northamptonshire. Based on this, he defined the American War of Independence (1775–83 ) as “a war between English and Germans which the English won”.

Covid passes into memory (fingers crossed) and the flight path into Birmingham which goes over Chateau Rhodes is once again thronged with jets. In order to reduce envy, I have explained to our grandson, aged two, that these planes are full of poor people who can't afford to go to Devon.

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