PM denies influencing attempts to rescue ex-marine and animals from Afghanistan

Boris Johnson has denied having any “influence” on a bid by a former Royal Marine to secure the passage of 200 dogs and cats alongside his animal shelter staff out of Afghanistan.

Paul Farthing, known as Pen, founded the Nowzad shelter in Kabul after serving with the British Army in Afghanistan in the mid-2000s, with the organisation rescuing dogs, cats and donkeys.

Since the collapse of the Afghan government, he has campaigned to have his staff and their families as well as 140 dogs and 60 cats evacuated from the country in a plan he has dubbed Operation Ark.

Reports have suggested the Prime Minister’s wife Carrie stepped in to push for his rescue.

Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan
Boris Johnson denied having influence on the case (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Asked about the reports on Thursday, Mr Johnson said: “I’ve had absolutely no influence on any particular case, nor would that be right.

“That’s not, that’s not how we do things in this country.”

Other reports have suggested Defence Secretary Ben Wallace complained that British military efforts to evacuate people from Kabul had been “diverted” because of the attempts to rescue the former marine.

On Thursday morning, Mr Farthing issued a plea on Twitter to ensure his “safe passage” into Kabul airport.

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Addressing the Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen, Mr Farthing said: “Dear Sir; my team & my animals are stuck at airport circle. We have a flight waiting. Can you please facilitate safe passage into the airport for our convoy?

“We are an NGO who will come back to Afghanistan but right now I want to get everyone out safely.”

He added: “We have been here for 10 hours after being assured that we would have safe passage. Truly would like to go home now. Let’s prove the IEA are taking a different path.”