Boris Johnson authorised evacuation of dogs from Afghanistan, email shows

Pen Farthing’s rescue mission gained a lot of public support, but was also accused of taking up valuable resources (Picture: REX/PA)
Boris Johnson personally authorised the evacuation of 173 dogs and cats from Afghanistan during the Taliban ’s takeover, a government email reveals.

The Prime Minister previously said it was ‘complete nonsense’ that he had intervened to rescue the animals.

In August last year the Government was accused of prioritising the evacuation while resources for getting people out of the country were limited. A Foreign Office whistleblower said clearance for the rescue operation meant capacity was used up at the airport for animals cared for by the Nowzad rescue charity.

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The shelter’s founder, Pen Farthing, furiously denied this, saying no British military resources were used to help his team, which left on a private chartered flight. But an email sent on August 25 by a Foreign Office official during the airlift, released by the Commons foreign affairs committee today, suggests Johnson played a role.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves the Downing Street in London, Britain, January 26, 2022. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
Boris Johnson had previously dismissed claims he intervened to save the dogs as ‘nonsense’ (Picture: Reuters)

Sent to the department’s ‘special cases’ team, the official says the animal charity has ‘received a lot of publicity’.

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It said the PM ‘has just authorised their staff and animals to be evacuated’ and that another animal charity ‘are hoping to be treated in the same capacity’.

This appears to support claims made last year by Foreign Office whistleblower Raphael Marshall, who said the department ‘received an instruction from the Prime Minister’ to use ‘considerable capacity’ to help Nowzad’s animals. He added: ‘There was a direct trade-off between transporting Nowzad’s animals and evacuating British nationals and Afghans evacuees, including Afghans who had served with British soldiers.’

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The Prime Minister said this was ‘complete nonsense’ and praised the successes of the airlift, which saw 15,000 British citizens and eligible Afghans pulled out of Kabul in two weeks. Nowzad volunteer Dominic Dyer, who managed the charity’s evacuation, told ‘Clearly the evidence released by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee confirms what I have been saying. ‘Boris Johnson was involved from the beginning, he gave it his strong support as a humanitarian rescue mission for people, yes, we had animals in the hold of the aircraft, but this was primarily about people.

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‘He took the right decision it and he can be very proud that he did so and saved lives as a result and those people are now living in Britain outside the horrors of Afghanistan. It’s a shame that it’s taken this process to get to the truth of the matter.

‘I have always been very, very pleased and grateful for what he did. There’s a lot of stuff being thrown at him and I’m not going to add to it.

‘What he did made a huge difference and I’m very grateful that the truth has emerged and it supports my version of events, because it can be dark and lonely out there.

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Royal Marine Pen Farthing denied that British forces were used to get his team and animals out of the country (Picture: PA)
‘Over 100 animals were saved but more importantly over 60 people, men women and children, were evacuated from Afghanistan and are now living in Britain.

‘The children are going to school, the people concerned are being trained to work as vets and veterinary nurses in animal care, who we desperately need in this country. That’s what we called for from the beginning.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and the British Veterinary Association had called on the Prime Minister from the beginning for that.

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‘I’m very pleased in the end that the operation was very successful as a result. I’m very proud of what I and everyone else involved did and I’m very grateful to the Prime Minister.’

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