Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Defence Secretary's Explosive Response To Veteran's Claims

Former Royal Marine's claim that he has been "cut off" from MOD support line is "b*****ks", Ben Wallace says in an interview.

The Defence Secretary has said he can't ensure the staff of a charity, run by a former Royal Marine, will leave Afghanistan in the current evacuation window.

Paul 'Pen' Farthing, who served in Helmand, Afghanistan, runs an animal welfare charity there and previously told Forces News he would not leave the country without his staff.

Last night, Mr Farthing tweeted he had been "left to fend" for himself in Afghanistan after being "cut off" by his Ministry of Defence (MOD) support line.

However, Ben Wallace told LBC Mr Farthing's claims of being "cut off" were "b*****ks".

"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," Mr Wallace told Sky News.

"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," he added.

Mr Farthing also tweeted Mr Wallace had "picked on the wrong person to back down", but Mr Wallace said he would not prioritise "pets over people".

Mr Wallace said the former Royal Marine was "called forward on Friday" for evacuation from Kabul, and recommended he "takes that".

The Defence Secretary also dismissed claims the Ministry of Defence (MOD) was blocking a chartered flight to get Mr Farthing and his staff out of Afghanistan.

On Monday, Mr Farthing said staff of his Nowzad charity had received UK visas, with permission granted for their dogs and cats to travel on the same flight.

It came after Mr Farthing's wife had been evacuated on an 'empty flight' a few days earlier.

Last week, Mr Farthing told Forces News the Afghanistan evacuation of Kabul Airport is a "humanitarian disaster that is just getting worse and worse every day".

Watch: Mr Farthing said he was refusing to leave Afghanistan until his staff got out of the country. 

He also said he would not "tolerate hearing another minister on TV saying the system is working because it's not".

"Something needs to be done today otherwise more people will die and that is squarely on the hands of the British and the American governments," Mr Farthing said.

It comes as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to use an emergency G7 meeting to follow up on the UK's push for President Biden to extend the Kabul evacuation deadline.

However, the Taliban have warned "there would be consequences" if the US or UK extend the time needed for a complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

If you or someone you know needs support at this time, you can find more information by visiting the British Army website and the Government's website.

Further details about support available can be found on the Forces News website.

Cover image: File photo of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Picture: MOD).