PM under pressure to explain his role in airlifting animals to Afghanistan
Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure to explain his role in evacuating the animals from Afghanistan amid reports he influenced their deportation from Kabul – despite his denials.
No 10 has repeatedly said that Mr Johnson had no involvement in the request for help for the charity Nowzad, after accusations that officials’ time was taken to support the charity instead than people who could have been brought to the UK.
Leaked emails surfaced on Wednesday in which Foreign Office officials suggest the Prime Minister ‘authorised’ their rescue, although Mr Johnson has previously said it was ‘complete nonsense’ that he intervened.
Ms Harrison previously wrote to former Royal Marine Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing, who ran the Nowzad shelter, advising him the evacuation would continue.
She told Sky News on Wednesday that she had contacted businesses and told staff she was a PPS for Mr Johnson, but was acting as a constituency MP and Mr Johnson was not involved in evacuation plans.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, in his second commentary on the situation in hours, said the evacuation of Nowzad had “nothing to do with the Prime Minister”.
Documents released by the Foreign Affairs Select Committee overnight showed how Sir Philip Barton – the permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office – said he was ‘unaware’ of the support for the decision to evacuate Nowzad either to No. 10 or the Prime Minister.
He said that “beyond speculation in the public domain” he knew of no reason why officials would attribute the decision to the prime minister.
He said ‘junior ministry officials or ministry officials often’ would convey ‘the views of Downing Street or No 10 without really knowing if it’s correct’.
Earlier, the Defense Secretary told broadcasters: “The claims that were made and the emails from the Foreign Office, who were not responsible for the actual evacuation operation, I don’t know of where they come from, but they certainly don’t show the reality. , which was: I was in charge, the Prime Minister never asked me, it was nonsense.
No 10 also issued a statement, shortly after the Prime Minister’s official spokesman held a briefing with reporters, stressing that Mr Johnson had played ‘no role’ in the rescue mission. British armed forces, Operation Pitting, or the evacuation of Taliban animals. – captured territory.
Mr Farthing launched a high-profile campaign to get his staff and animals out of Afghanistan after the fall of Kabul, using a plane funded by donations.
The British government sponsored permission for the charter flight, leading to claims that the animals had been given priority over people in the exit effort.
Evidence shows that an official in Lord Goldsmith’s private office – a joint Foreign Office and Environment Minister – told colleagues working on the evacuation on August 25 that “the Prime Minister has just ‘authorize the evacuation of its staff and animals’, in reference to the Nowzad charity.
Lord Goldsmith tweeted: “I have not authorized and do not support anything that would put the lives of animals before the lives of people.
“My position, which I made clear publicly, was that the UK should prioritize the evacuation of people.
“I never discussed the Nowzad charity or their efforts to evacuate the animals with the prime minister.”
Dominic Dyer, who led the political lobbying campaign from the UK for Nowzad to be offered support, said Mr Johnson’s refusal to acknowledge his role in the evacuation had “tarnished” the campaign.
Mr Dyer said the published emails ‘substantiated’ what he had previously exposed and argued the Prime Minister could be ‘very proud to be supporting this humanitarian rescue mission’.
He told the PA news agency: “I don’t know why he didn’t think he could explain his involvement in August at the end of this operation.
“It has tarnished what has been a very important operation which has enjoyed huge public support.”
He told Sky News: ‘I know Trudy Harrison, the Prime Minister’s PPS who was helping us on the campaign team, contacted the CEO of Virgin Atlantic, and we were just looking at different options available to us.