Nowzad founder accuses whistleblower of lying to Parliament over animal evacuation

Pen Farthing's denial followed an ex-diplomat's allegation that the Prime Minister personally intervened to order the transport of charity animals out of Kabul


The founder of an animal rescue charity has accused a whistleblower of lying after new claims emerged that the Prime Minister personally intervened to order the transport of his animals out of Afghanistan.

The Kabul-based charity Nowzad came to prominence in August following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, when an emergency campaign raised £200,000 to evacuate its staff and animals.

The charity's founder, Pen Farthing, a former marine, accused the Ministry of Defence of "blocking" his flight out of the country after the money was raised.  Farthing was subsequently evacuated along with about 200 animals on 27 August. 

The charity faced fresh scrutiny today after the testimony of ex-diplomat Raphael Marshall to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee was published, revealing the extent of the chaos he witnessed during the Kabul evacuation. 

On the evacuation of Nowzad, Marshall said: “There was a direct trade-off between transporting Nowzad’s animals and evacuating British nationals and Afghan evacuees, including Afghans who had served with British soldiers.”

This was due, he said, to the limited number of soldiers available to bring eligible people into the airport for evacuation and limited capacity within the airport. 

Marshall’s testimony also raised several questions about justifying the evacuation of the animals, including that “the protection of domestic animals was not a UK war aim in Afghanistan”.

Nowzad did not respond to a request for comment, but Farthing took to Twitter this morning to dismiss the reports.

He said: “Let’s make this bloody crystal clear & on the record. 

“NOT 1 single British soldier was used to get me or the Nowzad dogs & cats into Kabul airport. 

“This whistleblower lied to Parliament Nowzad supporters paid for cargo flight not the useless British government.”

The charity also tweeted: “When does the lying stop? Why keep using #nowzad to hide the incompetence of this government?”

In response to a request for comment, the Foreign Office referred Third Sector to an earlier TV interview with Boris Johnson in which he described the claim that he intervened on behalf of the charity as “complete nonsense”.

In September, the Charity Commission revealed it was gathering information from Nowzad after it received reports about the governance and financial arrangements of its Operation Ark fundraiser.

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