Former British officer pleads for UK visa for Afghan interpreter

A former British Army officer has pleaded for his former Afghan interpreter to be allowed to settle in the UK, fearing he risks “falling through the cracks” and being killed by the Taliban.

Charlie Herbert, formerly a major general, told The Times his 39-year-old interpreter, identified only as Ahmadzai, was in grave danger as he may be excluded from the UK’s programme to allow settlement for Afghans who had helped British forces in Afghanistan.

Ahmadzai, a married father of five, was not employed directly by the British Army but by private contractors, which meant he was not originally eligible for sanctuary in Britain, the paper reported.

After working with British forces, Ahmadzai has worked with other Nato allies including the US, but Mr Herbert said he now risked being overlooked because he was not directly employed by the nations he supported.

Foxhound light patrol vehicle stock
A Foxhound Light Protection Protected Vehicle at Camp Bastion, Helmand, Afghanistan (Sergeant Andy Reddy RLC/MoD/Crown Copyright/PA)

“We simply could not have operated there without interpreters of his competence and courage.

“There is no doubt of their (the Taliban’s) intent to kill him at the earliest opportunity,” Mr Herbert was quoted by The Times as saying.

Under Britain’s settlement scheme, more than 1,400 Afghans and their families have already relocated to the UK, with some 3,000 more expected.

Ahmadzai was quoted by The Times as saying he was home-schooling his children in Kabul, rather than letting them attend school, because of the threat from the Taliban.

“The situation is very bad, and everyone, especially the ones who worked for coalition troops and Nato, is in extreme danger,” he told the paper.

The Times said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who has already facilitated several changes to the UK’s policy on interpreters, had said Britain was “doing everything to make sure we recognise their services and bring them to safety”.