Boris Johnson personally authorised the airlift of personnel from a previous UK serviceman’s Kabul-based animal charity when the Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s capital city in 2015, according to a British federal government whistleblower.
Josie Stewart, a senior authorities at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office who formerly dealt with the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, stated there was “extensive evidence”, consisting of internal e-mails, that revealed the choice to prioritise the evacuation of Pen Farthing’s Nowzad charity originated from the prime minister.
Another whistleblower who utilized to work for the FCDO has actually declared Johnson stepped in to airlift Nowzad’s animals from Kabul, which pleas for aid from countless desperate Afghans looking for to get away the Taliban were neglected.
Raphael Marshall, who was likewise associated with the UK withdrawal from Afghanistan, informed the House of Commons foreign affairs choose committee in December there was a “direct trade-off” in between carrying Nowzad’s animals and leaving UK and Afghan nationals, consisting of those who had actually served with British soldiers.
Johnson has actually formerly dismissed Marshall’s statement that he stepped in to prioritise Nowzad’s personnel and animals as “total rhubarb”.
In 7 pages of composed statement to the committee, Stewart stated it was “widespread knowledge” in the FCDO’s Afghanistan crisis centre that “the decision on Nowzad’s Afghan staff came from the prime minister”.
Stewart stated: “I saw messages to this effect on Microsoft Teams, I heard it discussed in the crisis centre including by senior civil servants, and I was copied on numerous emails which clearly suggested this and which no one, including Nigel Casey [UK special representative for Afghanistan] acting as Crisis Gold [team leader], challenged.”
Stewart stated the choice to prioritise Nowzad’s personnel in the evacuation of Kabul last August was “only in response to this PM decision” and broke the judgment of authorities.
She described an e-mail from Casey that she was copied into that stated Sir Stephen Lovegrove, Johnson’s nationwide security consultant, “would seek input on the Nowzad case from Number 10”.
Stewart, head of the illegal financing system at the FCDO, stated she was not familiar with a “deliberate decision to prioritise animals over people”. But she mentioned the Nowzad choice was “not in line with policy” and “carried significant opportunity cost in terms of the amount of senior civil servant time spent on the case”.
Stewart likewise implicated Sir Philip Barton, head of the FCDO, of deceptive parliament over proof concerning the prime minister’s participation in Nowzad.
Barton informed the committee in January that Casey had actually not gotten any correspondence about Johnson and Nowzad.
Stewart stated: “Nigel Casey explicitly testified that he had searched his emails and found nothing of relevance, yet when I searched my emails for ‘PM’ and ‘Nowzad’ I found more than one email referencing ‘the PM’s decision on Nowzad’ and with Nigel Casey in copy.”
At a hearing of the Foreign Affairs committee on Monday, Barton and Casey stated they were not specific who authorised the evacuation of Nowzad personnel.
Casey informed MPs: “As it turns out there was a very good reason why none of us could remember that, and that’s because we had not been told at the time and we haven’t been since.”
He included that he and Barton had actually addressed the committee’s concerns “in good faith, to the best of our knowledge at the time”.
In action, Labour’s Chris Bryant stated: “I find it difficult to believe you.”
Stewart criticised the “lack of accountability” over the Foreign Office’s management of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
“I feel a strong sense of moral injury for having been part of something so badly managed, and so focused on managing reputational risk and political fallout rather than the actual crisis and associated human tragedy,” she stated.
“This manifest failure led to confusion, impossible demands on the crisis team and compounded human tragedy in Kabul.”
The FCDO stated: “At all times, officials have responded to the committee’s questions in good faith, on the basis of the evidence available to us at the time.
“We are rightly proud of our staff who worked tirelessly to evacuate more than 15,000 people from Afghanistan within a fortnight.
“The prime minister has made clear he had no role in authorising individual evacuations from Afghanistan . . . including Nowzad staff and animals.”
Downing Street did not right away react to an ask for remark.