Authorities Suggest Prime Minister ‘Authorized’ Evacuation of Animal Charities in Afghanistan


In written evidence released by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, an official working in Lord Goldsmith’s office said “the Prime Minister has just authorized” Nowzad “the evacuation of staff and animals”.

Johnson, when asked by reporters Dec. 7 if he had a hand in last summer’s evacuation, called the suggestion “complete nonsense.”

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Labor has accused the prime minister of “lying” about the incident and has reiterated its call for him to resign, while his government is also affected by the partygate controversy.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons in London.

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 donor-funded plane.

The UK government sponsored the authorization for the charter flight, prompting accusations that animals had been given priority over people in the rescue effort.

Evidence released on Wednesday shows Lord Goldsmith’s official at the Foreign Office emailed colleagues working on the “Bronze special cases team”, saying other animal welfare charities were seeking help after Nowzad had been approved for evacuation.

The official in the minister’s private office wrote on August 25: “[animal charity – name redacted] area [details redacted] animal charity that operates in Kabul and seeks to evacuate its [details redacted] staff members (no animals).

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“The equivalent charity Nowzad, run by an ex-Royal Marine, has received a lot of publicity and the Prime Minister has just authorized the evacuation of its staff and animals. [animal charity – name redacted] they expect to be treated in the same capacity.”

The evidence was presented to the committee by Raphael Marshall, who was working for the Foreign Office at the time and claimed that the animals were evacuated on direct instructions from Mr Johnson.

Downing Street distanced Johnson from his involvement in the decision to evacuate Nowzad’s animals, when asked about the claims on Wednesday.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “It remains true that the prime minister did not instruct officials to take any particular action.”

But Dominic Dyer, who led the political lobbying campaign from the UK for Nowzad to be evacuated, said the prime minister’s refusal to acknowledge his role in the evacuation had “tarnished” the campaign.

Dyer said emails released by the committee “vindicated” what he had previously said and argued that Johnson could be “very proud to support this as a humanitarian rescue mission.”

He told the PA news agency: “I’m not sure why he didn’t feel like he could explain his involvement in August at the end of this operation.

“I don’t know why, and I don’t know why this was allowed to become such a big political football, with the Ministry of Defense falling out with the Foreign Office and Downing Street saying it had no part in it.

“It has tarnished what has been a very important operation that had huge public support, and I think it’s a sad indictment of our political system at the moment, which the Prime Minister is presiding over to be quite frank.”

Politically, the prime minister has been accused of “lying” about his hand in the evacuation.

Labor Party Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey said: “Once again the Prime Minister has been caught lying about what he has been doing and deciding.

“He should never have made it a priority to get animals out of Afghanistan while Afghans working for our military were left behind.

“In this case, people were fleeing in terror as the Taliban took over Kabul and British forces put their lives in danger, the Prime Minister was once again prioritizing the wrong things and making the wrong decisions.

“We need to know why the prime minister overrode the secretary of defense with this decision.”

The Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokeswoman, Layla Moran, called on Johnson to “immediately make a public statement to correct the record and, for once, tell the truth.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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