Officials suggest PM ‘authorised’ Afghanistan evacuation of animal charity

·1-min read
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denied having a role in the evacuation of Nowzad (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has denied having a role in the evacuation of Nowzad (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Ministerial officials said that the Prime Minister “authorised” for a charity and its animals to be evacuated from Afghanistan despite Boris Johnson calling suggestions he intervened “complete nonsense”.

In written evidence published by the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, an official working in Lord Goldsmith’s office said the “PM has just authorised” Nowzad “staff and animals to be evacuated”.

Mr Johnson, asked by reporters on December 7 if he had intervened in the evacuation last summer, called the suggestion “complete nonsense”.

Former Royal Marine Paul “Pen” Farthing, who ran the Nowzad shelter, launched a high-profile campaign to get his staff and animals out of Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul using a plane funded through donations.

The UK Government sponsored clearance for the charter flight, leading to allegations that animals had been prioritised over people in the rescue effort.

Pen Farthing, founder of animal rescue charity Nowzad (Nowzad/PA) (PA Media)
Pen Farthing, founder of animal rescue charity Nowzad (Nowzad/PA) (PA Media)

The evidence published on Wednesday shows Lord Goldsmith’s official in the Foreign Office emailed colleagues working on the “special cases team Bronze”, saying: “[animal charity – name redacted] are a [details redacted] animal charity operating in Kabul and seeking to evacuation their [details redacted] members of staff (no animals).

“Equivalent charity Nowzad, run by an ex-Royal Marine, has received a lot of publicity and the PM has just authorised their staff and animals to be evacuated, [animal charity – name redacted] are hoping to be treated in the same capacity.”

Downing Street distanced Mr Johnson from involvement in the decision on evacuating the Nowzad animals, when asked about the claims on Wednesday.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “It remains the case that the PM didn’t instruct officials to take any particular course of action.”

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