Boris Johnson denies intervening in Afghan airlift on behalf of animal rescuer

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Boris Johnson has denied interfering with this summer’s Kabul airlift to ask officials to prioritize the evacuation of former soldier Pen Farthing and his rescue animals since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August.

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Whistle-blower Rafael Marshall told lawmakers that the Foreign Office would have to use “considerable capacity” to help keep 170 cats and dogs on a chartered plane to former Imperial Marines was said.

A campaigner for Mr Farthing’s Naujad charity also said he had no doubts that Mr Johnson personally intervened to topple Defense Secretary Ben Wallace after being given a “tough time” by his animal-loving wife, Carrie. did.


“Yeah we lobbied, and we lobbied very successfully. I put the prime minister’s hand in force … there’s no doubt that Kerry Johnson gave him a hard time,” Dominic Dyer told BBC News.

Mr Johnson today dismissed the claims as “complete nonsense”, describing the evacuation effort as “one of the outstanding military achievements of the past 50 years or more”.

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The PM acknowledged that “sometimes decisions take longer than we expected” during the evacuation from Kabul. But he said officials did an “absolutely excellent job” processing “very difficult, very complex claims incredibly quickly”.

Mr Marshall, who worked on the evacuation operation as a desk officer at the Foreign Office, said the order came “at the direct expense” of the tens of thousands of Afghans who hurriedly ended the evacuation.

In a 40-page dossier of evidence from the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, he claimed helplines were lacking, emails from desperate Afghans went unread and junior officials with no local knowledge worked on specialist cases.

He told the committee: “There was no reason to believe that the Taliban would target animal rights charities. So there was no justification to conclude that Naujad’s employees were at significant risk.

“In contrast, many others would inevitably be left behind who were at risk of murder. Similarly the protection of domestic animals was not the aim of Britain’s war in Afghanistan.”

And Mr Dyer told the BBC: “The prime minister intervened – he intervened directly with the home secretary to put people on the priority list. They weren’t at the top of that list, but we made it clear that they were at serious risk.” were in, and they accepted that argument.

“He was right to intervene … Without the Prime Minister’s intervention, Mr Wallace would have continued to halt the operation.”

But Mr Johnson’s official spokesman denied that either the prime minister, his animal-loving wife or any member of the Number 10 staff intervened to tell military or civilian staff in response to Farthing’s appeal for help. .

“We have always given priority to people over animals,” the PM’s spokesperson said.

“The prime minister’s focus was on rescuing and evacuating as many people as possible. That was the instruction he gave to the entire government and so we later evacuated 15,000 people and another 2,000 people.

“UK government employees worked tirelessly to evacuate more than 15,000 people from Afghanistan within a fortnight. It was the largest mission of its kind in generations and the second largest evacuation operation by any country. We are still working to help others leave.

The spokesman said Mr Farthing had been cleared by UK authorities to fly a privately chartered plane out of Kabul International Airport, but did not detract from the evacuation operation. Mr Johnson was not involved in the decision to grant the approval, he said.

“We granted clearance for the flight and they were provided assistance through the airport, but nothing more than that,” he said. “I would not attribute the sanction to divert attention from our ability to remove individuals.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, who was foreign secretary at the time of the Operation Pitting evacuation, today dismissed Mr Marshall’s revelations about the chaotic Afghan evacuation as coming from a “junior desk officer” and insisted it was a success. Was.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Raab should have left the government at the time of the Afghanistan crisis.

He told the BBC that Mr Marshall’s “devastating” testimony “exposed the shameful incompetence of the government”.

He said that as a result thousands of Afghans were “frustrated and left to their fate”.

“It is shocking that we are all now learning that emails and letters we sent to the Foreign Office – including from my office – were opened but not acted upon.

“It is a total failure of the political leadership with a former foreign secretary who was busy on the beach instead of doing his job.”

Asked whether Mr Raab should be in office, Sir Keir said: “I think Dominic Raab should have resigned at that time, it would have been a decent, honorable thing to do.”

The Prime Minister’s spokesman confirmed that the promised resettlement plan to bring 20,000 vulnerable Afghans to the UK has yet to begin operation.


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