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Ben Wallace fumes at use of UK troops to help evacuate ex-marine’s animals – ‘Upsetting’

Afghanistan: UK 'faces trouble from Russia and China' says MP

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Paul Farthing served with the British Army in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s. After leaving the Marines, he set up the Nowzad shelter, which looks after rescued animals – such as dogs, cats and donkeys. Ever since the Taliban seized back control of the country, Mr Farthing has campaigned to get his 140 dogs and 60 cats, along with his staff and their families, evacuated from Afghanistan.

On Monday, the former British soldier said he had received UK visas for 68 people, but there remain problems regarding the evacuation of the animals.

Sky News reports that in an online meeting with MPs on Wednesday, the UK Defence Secretary expressed his frustration that misinformation over Mr Farthing’s predicament had adversely affected the military evacuation of citizens.

“What I can tell you, and it is a bit upsetting, is that I have soldiers on the ground who have been diverted from saving those people because of inaccurate stories, inaccurate lobbying that have diverted that resource,” he said.

“And that is not something I would be proud of, and I’ve been very straight and consistent throughout.”

Mr Wallace also claimed he could not fly the animals out of Kabul on RAF planes due to public health reasons.

The Defence Secretary told the MPs: “The simple reality is that we can’t put the animals on the RAF plane.

“The reason for that is the combination with people, but also the numerous air regulations and the third country we would fly to would mean we had all sorts of issues around public health.

“The aeroplane would need to be taken out of circulation which would mean I couldn’t have an aeroplane I desperately need to take hundreds of people out of the next few days.”

Mr Farthing, also known as Pen, is believed to be on his way to Kabul with his entourage of staff and animals.

Nowzad supporters are said to have privately chartered an Airbus A330 to fly them out of the country.

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Although initially against the idea, Mr Wallace confirmed in a series of tweets on Wednesday they would be able to board the chartered Airbus and leave Kabul.

“Now that Pen Farthing’s staff have been cleared to come forward under LOTR I have authorised MOD to facilitate their processing alongside all other eligible personnel at (Kabul airport),” he wrote.

“At that stage, if he arrives with his animals we will seek a slot for his plane.”

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