THE husband of a woman being held prisoner in Iran after being accused of spying has attacked Boris Johnson for resigning as Foreign Secretary saying his decision to quit set back efforts to free her.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 40, has been in jail in Tehran and separated from her young daughter Gabriella, for nearly two years on trumped up charges of trying to topple the Government.

Richard Ratcliffe said he was expecting Johnson to decide this week if his wife could be given diplomatic immunity and brought home to London.

However, he added that following Johnson’s resignation on Monday in protest over the Prime Minister’s plans for a softer Brexit, a decision by the Foreign Office would no longer be imminent.

Johnson had already faced criticism over the case after he wrongly told MPs Ratcliffe had been in Tehran training journalists. His error saw her face new charges which could see her stuck in jail for many more years.

Ratcliffe criticised Johnson for abandoning his Cabinet role while his wife is still waiting to learn her fate. “We have been in discussions with the Foreign Office over the Government providing Nazanin with diplomatic protection since the Autumn, particularly given the targeting of her using the former Foreign Secretary’s comments,” he said.

“We had submitted a number of legal opinions and letters over the past 10 months, and have been asking for the Foreign Secretary to give us a final decision since mid April. The resignation came at an unfortunate time for Nazanin, since last week the file for the Foreign Secretary’s final decision on providing Nazanin diplomatic protection had been finalised by FCO staff and put on the Foreign Secretary’s desk. We had been hoping for a decision this week. However, the resignation came before this decision was made. We have been informed a decision will no longer happen imminently.”

Ratcliffe was arrested in Tehran in April 2016 after visiting her parents in Iran with her young daughter. She was taken to prison and held in solitary confinement for 45 days before being moved to a women’s wing and later sentenced to five years in prison for spying following a trial campaigners have branded “secret and unfair’”.

Stephen Gethins, the SNP Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “This confirms what we already know about the utter contempt Boris Johnson has shown for this sensitive situation. The nightmare for Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her family just adds to the litany of failures of the former Foreign Secretary. He should have been sacked months ago for being a national embarrassment and not allowed to resign as he did.’’