Foreign Office emails appear to contradict Downing Street denials that Boris Johnson did not personally authorise the controversial rescue of cats and dogs from a British animal charity in Afghanistan.
The first of two emails released on Wednesday, from an unnamed Foreign Office official working in the private office of Zac Goldsmith and dated 25 August, lobbies for the rescue of a second animal charity because the prime minister had agreed to evacuate Pen Farthing’s Nowzad charity.
“Equivalent charity Nowzad, run by an ex-Royal Marine, has received a lot of publicity and the PM has just authorised their staff and animals to be evacuated,” the official working for Lord Goldsmith writes to another Foreign Office official responsible for collating exceptional cases to be rescued after the Taliban takeover.
A second email, sent between Foreign Office officials in the afternoon of the same day, repeats the point. “In light of the PM’s decision earlier today to evacuate the staff of the Nowzad animal charity, the [animal charity – name redacted] is asking for agreement to the entry of [details redacted] staff, all Afghan nationals.”
Johnson, Downing Street and ministers have repeatedly denied the claims. In December Johnson dismissed claims he had intervened as “complete nonsense”. The same day Downing Street had said: “At no point did the prime minister intervene. We have always prioritised people over animals.”
Both emails were released by the foreign affairs select committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer. They were supplied by a whistleblower, Raphael Marshall, who lifted the lid on the Foreign Office’s chaotic handling of the crisis in written evidence to the committee in December.
More details soon …