Tuesday 7 December 2021

Foreign Office official Raphael Marshall claims British government prioritised rescue animals over people when evacuating Kabul

Raphael Marshall, who has now left the Foreign Office but who at the time was a junior civil servant, has made some pretty tough claims against the British government's handling of the evacuation of Kabul after the Taliban took over the country. And they are anti-animal claims too. Or human-centric.

Raphael Marshall
Raphael Marshall. Pic in public domain.

What he is saying, in essence, is that British troops were used to support the evacuation of Nowzad cats and dogs (mainly dogs) from Kabul when they could have been used to help the evacuation of people instead. And because of this he claims that some people were left behind to be murdered by the Taliban. This claim is strongly denied by Dominic Raab the Foreign Secretary. Also many people with a good reason to be evacuated to the UK were not for many reasons which are not connected to the animal evacuation. One of them is the claimed disorder and even chaos at the Foreign Office at the time. Raab was on holiday for example although in close touch.

Marshall's claim is also strongly denied by Mr Paul "Pen" Farthing who ran the Nowzad animal rescue shelter. You may remember that at the time he was quite vociferous and outspoken, which he had to be, in order to successfully achieve the near impossible and get his rescue animals out of a chaotic Kabul. At the time, Mr Farthing felt that the British government wasn't doing enough and he was being jerked around. That alone flies in the face of Mr Marshall's claims.

Note: This is an embedded tweet. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.

In fact, Mr Farthing has tweeted his response (above) in saying that not one single British soldier was used to get him or his animals out of Kabul. He claims that Raphael Marshall is lying. He alleges that Mr Marshall lied to Parliament and that Nowzad supporters paid for the evacuation flights.

RELATED: 25-30 cats at US Embassy Kabul have been abandoned.

In response Marshall says that this isn't the point. The point is that British troops were used to help evacuate the animals when they would have been better used evacuating people. Mr Marshall claims that he is not accusing anybody of lying. He says that he is simply correcting the facts.

He says that he received an instruction from the Prime Minister to use considerable capacity to transport Nowzad's animals out of Afghanistan. He also claims that there was "no justification for concluding that Nowzad's staff were at significant risk". And that "the protection of domestic animals was not a UK war aim in Afghanistan".

RELATED: Whistle-blower's claim of direct trade-off between animals and people evacuating Kabul is wrong.

A man concerned with campaigning for the evacuation of the animals has spoken to LBC radio and said that he is sure that both Boris Johnson and his wife Carrie Johnson personally intervened in getting the animals evacuated. Boris Johnson has strongly denied that. 

However, Boris has gained a reputation for being a liar among the voting public. I think they have judged him harshly to be fair but he brings the problems upon himself. A lot of them are sick to death of his shenanigans as they see it. There is a current claim that he lied about the Christmas party last Christmas. 

It appears to have happened against the then Covid lockdown policy and to have been organised by staff at Downing Street but he denies it happened. There's a recording of employees talking about it and laughing, which has been aired on the radio. However, it is not clear that the party existed. The recorded gossip may have been about a fictional party.

A leaked letter suggests that the Foreign Office covered up PM’s involvement in animal airlift from Kabul, MP claims.

RELATED: Breaking news: Nowzad animals and staff cleared to evacuate to the UK - Aug 28, 2021.

Marshall says that there was limited ability to get people out of the country and as a result thousands of Afghan friends of the UK were at risk of being murdered. Many people were rejected for evacuation flights due to limited capacity. He claims that "this capacity was subsequently used to transport animals".

Further, he 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."

There it is: he is making a clear claim that in saving the lives of animals Britain jeopardised the lives of people and in some cases he has implied that people left behind who were friends of the UK have been murdered.

In light of Marshall's claims some Afghans who made it to the UK but who left behind relatives in danger of Taliban reprisals have chipped in and said that they are disappointed.

Mr Mohammed, an interpreter who was evacuated, said: “Dogs and cats have a life too and should be rescued. But in my opinion, the priority should be humans and more should be done to help those facing danger in Afghanistan.”

Comment: I don't want to comment on the claims about people being prioritised over animals unjustifiably. I would just like to make the point that in my opinion the animals deserved to be saved. It wasn't as if there was a huge animal airlift out of Kabul. This was quite a small contingent of animals and they were all rescue animals under a very high profile animal charity. Pretty well all the work was conducted by Mr Farthing and his supporters. He had to struggle to get the British government to pull their digit out to help them. And for me, it's a wonderful success story. I commend Mr Farthing. You can't prioritise people over animals exclusively all the time. You have to give some respect and some status to animals if we are to create a balanced balanced and compassionate world.

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