New emails released by the British parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee suggest that Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally intervened to assist an animal charity, to the alleged detriment of British nationals and Afghan civilians, despite his previous public rejection of the accusation.
One of the emails, dated Aug. 25, 2021, was from an official working for Foreign Office Minister Lord Goldsmith to the Foreign Office’s special cases team regarding an unnamed animal charity.
“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,” it said.
It is the passing mention of Nowzad that has led to accusations that the prime minister lied.
Last year, Raphael Marshall, a whistle-blower from the Foreign Office, gave written evidence to parliament that the department received an “instruction” from Johnson to use “considerable capacity” to help evacuate animals in the care of Nowzad.
Nowzad is run by ex-Royal Marine Paul “Pen” Farthing. He led a high-profile social media campaign to secure an evacuation. That campaign proved highly controversial. Despite animal rights activists gifting Farthing their support, many people were outraged by the idea that British citizens and innocent Afghans would be pushed back in the line to escape Afghanistan, which had just fallen to the Taliban.
Farthing was initially denied permission by the government to have his animals evacuated but in the end was allowed to charter a plane and carry out his evacuation. There was media speculation at the time that the prime minister’s wife, an animal rights activist, urged him to help.
Labour’s shadow defense secretary John Healey said: “Once again, the Prime Minister has been caught out lying about what he has been doing and deciding.”
“He should never have given priority to flying animals out of Afghanistan while Afghans who worked for our armed forces were left behind,” Healey said.