The Defence Secretary says he is unable to guarantee that the staff of an animal welfare charity in Afghanistan, run by a former marine, will be able to leave during the current evacuation window.
Paul Farthing, known as “Pen”, founded the Nowzad animal shelter in Kabul rescuing dogs, cats and donkeys after serving with the British Army in Afghanistan
in the mid-2000s.
Ben Wallace told Sky News: “He could get through the gates as a British passport holder. He was called forward on Friday and I recommend he takes that.
“His workforce have been offered, as entitled personnel, places and they will be able to be called forward, but I can’t guarantee in this window they will be processed onto aircraft, all I can say is they qualify.
“As for the animals that he was rescuing… it is just not going to be the case that I will prioritise them over the men, women and children we see in desperate need at the gate.”
Mr Farthing had on Monday urged the public to “get behind the Prime Minister” as he sought to persuade Joe Biden
to keep the Afghan air corridor open beyond the August 31 evacuation deadline.
Since the collapse of the Afghan government, he has been campaigning to have all of his staff and their families, as well as his 140 dogs and 60 cats, evacuated from the country in a plan he has dubbed “Operation Ark”.
On Monday morning, a jubilant Mr Farthing announced the UK Government has granted visas for all of his staff and their dependents.
However, he tweeted later that day: “I have been left to fend for myself in Kabul. Cut off from my #MoD support line by the special advisor to @benwallacemp. 22 year Marine left behind lines.. neither my staff or animals will now get out - cheers @BorisJohnson”.
He added: “As before I am staying with my staff and animals. I’ll get them in that airport and I will get my flight in. You picked on the wrong person to back down @BWallaceMP I served 22 years as a @RoyalMarines We don’t quit.”