UK

Pen Farthing’s animal mission ‘DID put soldiers at risk when they were given priority over Afghans’

Pen Farthing’s animal mission DID put soldiers at risk when the cats and dogs were given priority over Afghan translators as Kabul fell, whistleblower says

  • Former Royal Marine Pen Farthing convinced Government to rescue 170 animals
  • A Foreign Office whistleblower has said the decision put British soldiers at risk
  • Raphael Marshall says it was wrong Mr Farthing’s charity was given priority 
  • American animal charity still operating in Kabul has not suffered mistreatment


British soldiers were put at risk by the decision to evacuate animals from Afghanistan, a whistleblower claims.

Pen Farthing, a former Royal Marine, persuaded the Government to help him evacuate 170 dogs and cats from Kabul.

The animals had been looked after by his charity Nowzad.

But Raphael Marshall told MPs he agreed with the military that it was wrong that Mr Farthing’s charity was given priority when translators were being left to their fate.

In his statement, the former Foreign Office civil servant says: ‘There was no reason to believe the Taliban would target animal rights charities. There was therefore no justification for concluding Nowzad’s staff were at significant risk.

‘By contrast many others would inevitably be left behind who were at risk of murder. Similarly the protection of domestic animals was not a UK war aim in Afghanistan.’

Pen and Hannah Farthing with former Afghan fighting dog Nowzad and Tali Nowzad dogs charity, which rescues stray and abandoned animals from Afghanistan

Former Royal Marine Paul 'Pen' Farthing persuaded the Government to help him evacuate 170 dogs and cats from Kabul

Former Royal Marine Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing persuaded the Government to help him evacuate 170 dogs and cats from Kabul

Raphael Marshall (pictured), a junior civil servant, has claimed he was at times the only person dealing with thousands of emails from those desperate to flee the Taliban

Raphael Marshall (pictured), a junior civil servant, has claimed he was at times the only person dealing with thousands of emails from those desperate to flee the Taliban

Mr Marshall adds: ‘There was a direct trade-off between transporting Nowzad’s animals and evacuating British nationals and Afghan evacuees, including Afghans who had served with British soldiers. 

This is because soldiers tasked with escorting the dogs through the crowd and into the airport would have otherwise been deployed to support the evacuation of British nationals or Afghans prioritised for evacuation.

‘The limited number of British soldiers available to help UK visa holders and British citizens from the crowd into the airport was an important limiting factor on our ability to evacuate people.’

He says: ‘I wish the staff of Nowzad all the best in their new life in the UK but they were not eligible for evacuation, let alone for exceptional assistance which prioritised them above British Army interpreters. 

‘I believe British soldiers were put at risk in order to bring Nowzad’s animals into the airport.’

Mr Farthing, pictured with Nowzad in 2013. The fighting dog inspired the name of his animal charity which was looking after cats and dogs in Afghanistan

Mr Farthing, pictured with Nowzad in 2013. The fighting dog inspired the name of his animal charity which was looking after cats and dogs in Afghanistan 

Afghans struggle to reach the foreign forces to show their credentials to flee the country outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August

Afghans struggle to reach the foreign forces to show their credentials to flee the country outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August

Mr Marshall goes on to say an American animal charity is still operating in Kabul and has not been subject to any mistreatment by the Taliban.

‘This vindicates the MoD and FCDO’s belief that neither Nowzad’s animals nor its staff were at risk from the Taliban,’ he writes. 

‘Her Majesty’s Government transported animals which were not at risk of harm at the direct expense of evacuating British nationals and people at risk of imminent murder, including interpreters.’

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