BoJo Approved Priority Evacuation of Pets & Animals From Afghanistan, Emails Reveal
14:08 GMT 26.01.2022 (Updated: 16:59 GMT 26.01.2022)
Late last year, the prime minister dismissed reports about the prioritisation of a charter flight carrying animals out of Kabul during August's chaotic evacuation of Afghanistan as "complete nonsense."
Prime Minister Boris Johnson approved the priority flight of animals and pets out of Afghanistan, despite his claims to the contrary to reporters in December, emails released by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Wednesday have revealed.
The first piece of correspondence
, released by the Committee as part of its broader investigation of the Afghanistan debacle, is dated 25 August 2021, was sent by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs with responsibility for the Pacific Zac Goldsmith and addressed to an official in the Foreign Secretary's private office (name redacted).
"[Animal charity – name redacted] are a [details redacted] animal charity operating in Kabul and seeking to evacuation [sic] 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 authorized their staff and animals to be evacuated, [animal charity – name redacted] are hoping to be treated in the same capacity," the appeal reads.
"The [charity] staff can all be guaranteed employment in the UK by [details redacted]. The head of the charity can also guarantee their safe passage to the airport- just let me know if you need me to do anything to facilitate this (as I'm in contact with [details redacted] directly)," Goldsmith adds.
A second email, sent by an unnamed Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office employee, also on 25 August, and addressed to an official in the Foreign Secretary's private office, similarly points to Johnson's direct involvement.
"In light of the PM's decision earlier today to evacuate the staff of the Nowzad animal charity, the [animal charity - name redacted] (another animal rights NGO) is asking for agreement to the entry of [details redacted], all Afghan nationals," the appeal reads.
"The [animal charity -name redacted] contributes to HMG objectives in a broad sense. The [details redacted] are the most vulnerable in the [animal charity -name redacted] group. Having regard to the Prime Minister's Nowzad decision, the Foreign Secretary might consider the [details redacted] vets and their dependents should be included. They might be able to get to the airport with their dependents in time," it adds.
The damning emails appear to confirm allegations made earlier
by former Foreign Office official-turned whistleblower Raphael Marshall on the prioritization of animals over people during the hectic final days of the UK's evacuation from Afghanistan in August, codenamed Operation Pitting.
The whistleblower had complained about the use of "considerable capacity" to evacuate dogs and cats from the Nowzad animal shelter, run by former Royal Marine commando Paul Farthing, saying the space aboard aircraft could have instead been used to take Britons and Afghans who had assisted the UK during its 19+ year operation in Afghanistan to safety.
Nowzad proudly boasts
on its website that it managed to evacuate "67 staff plus...founder Pen Farthing and 94 dogs and 68 cats [who] undertook a hazardous journey to escape Afghanistan" aboard a charter flight in a mission dubbed "Operation Ark."
Farthing's behaviour became the subject of scrutiny in late August amid revelations that he lambasted British military officials in a series of
so they would clear the Kabul runway for the plane carrying him and his animals. Upon making it back to the UK, the ex-commando apologized for his behaviour and blamed
"emotions" for getting "the better of [him]."
Prime Minister Johnson had dismissed
Marshall's claims as "complete nonsense" in remarks to reporters in December and insisted that the evacuation was "one of the outstanding military achievements of the last 50 years or more" for Britain. The prime minister praised the "absolutely outstanding job" done by the Foreign Office, the Border Force and Home Office officials during the operation, and the airlifting of some 15,000 people out of Kabul.
Over 122,000 people total were evacuated out of Kabul by the US, the UK and other allies in the final two weeks of August 2021 following the sudden and unexpected collapse of the Afghan government and army – four months after US President Joe Biden announced that all US troops would be removed from the country by the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The execution of the evacuation has met with controversy in the US amid reports
that officials weren't certain of the security status of many of the evacuees, and revelations
that priority seats were reserved for CIA-allied commandos suspected of execution-style killings of civilians.