A former British ambassador has blasted Michael Gove for his handling of the Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe controversy, saying his intervention has made the British-Iranian woman's situation worse.
Gove has faced fierce criticism following an interview he gave to the BBC about Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has spent the last 17 months in an Iranian jail after being found guilty of plotting to overthrow the Tehran regime.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe have always maintained that her trip to Iran in March 2016 was purely to visit family, and was in no way seditious. However Gove admitted to the BBC that he didn't know why the 38-year-old had travelled to the hardline Islamic country.
Oliver Miles told Julia Hartley-Brewer: "Gove made it worse by not apparently being aware of what the Government position was.
"That won’t do, cabinet ministers are supposed to speak with one voice on matters which are well-known.
"This is not an obscure case, which you could excuse him for not having heard about it. On the contrary, it’s been in the headlines.
"He should have known the government position and should have said so."
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also been excoriated for suggesting that Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an executive with Thomson Reuters, was in Iran to train journalists - a claim which the Iranian regime has used to justify fresh charges against her.
But Miles said Johnson's reputation for mistakes and embarrassment might actually play to Zaghari-Ratcliffe's advantage.
He said: “Here Johnson’s reputation may be helpful from the point of view of this case. Everyone knows he’s constantly making gaffes and saying things which turn out not to be Government policy.
"If I were a foreign diplomat observing British affairs, I would be warning my ministers to not take anything he says seriously because he often contradicts himself a few days later, or is contradicted by the Prime Minister."