Pen Farthing: Watchdog scrutinises Afghan animal rescue charity

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A charity commission is investigating a former Marine’s mission to airlift 162 dogs and cats from Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power.

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Pen Farthing made headlines for his public campaign, entitled Operation Ark, to evacuate his employees and their families, and rescue animals in the care of his charity Naujad.

The charity watchdog has now said it is looking into how the rescue mission was funded. Operation Ark raised over £200,000 from well-wishers in a matter of days.


Naujad told BBC that it had worked properly. He said in a statement: “The trustees are absolutely convinced that Novazad’s life-saving act in the incredibly difficult circumstances was the right and only act and was solely in furtherance of the charity’s purpose.”

He confirmed that the Charity Commission is asking for comments from his trustees on Operation Ark, including asking how the campaign advances the charity’s purpose.

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“The Trustees certainly believe that it is entirely appropriate for the Commission to gather more information about this high-profile and unprecedented operation and are very happy to provide the information requested,” he added.

After receiving reports on the governance and financial arrangements of Operation Ark, the Charity Commission has contacted Naujad for further details.

It will examine whether the use of funds for the withdrawal effort was in line with the purpose of the charity.

He added: “Earlier this month, we contacted the charity Naujad for more information regarding the recent fundraising initiative Operation Ark. We will assess the information provided by the trustees to determine whether the commission to have a role or not.”

Mr Farthing’s charity operates an animal clinic, dog and cat shelter and donkey sanctuary in Afghanistan. He had hired a plane to evacuate animals and staff from Kabul during the UK evacuation, but the war ended with Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace over whether his plane was allowed to land at the airport. .

Pen Farthing was eventually ejected from the plane with his animals and his personnel managed to escape to Afghanistan on the Pakistan land border.

Edwina Turner, a charity governance attorney for Anthony Collins Solicitors, said the watchdog’s investigation could be a “crisis point” in the charity’s life.

She added: “It is very serious if the regulator collects information from you. The charity would like to address any concerns.

“A question they [Nowzad] Will they need an answer as to whether they have spent the money raised to meet their objectives? Secondly, whether they have spent the money in the best possible way to achieve their charitable objectives. Third, has the money raised through Operation Ark been spent in accordance with the terms of the fundraising campaign?”


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