'That's bollocks': Defence Secretary dismisses claims ex-Marine has been 'abandoned'

24 August 2021, 08:22 | Updated: 24 August 2021, 16:35

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has dismissed claims former Royal Marine Pen Farthing has been 'cut off by the MoD' and left 'to fend for himself' in Afghanistan.

LBC's Nick Ferrari questioned the Secretary of State over comments made by former Royal Marine Pen Farthing this morning.

Animal lover Mr Farthing had tweeted that he had been "left to fend for myself in Kabul" as he tried to get animal welfare staff and animals out of the country.

He said he has been "cut off from my MoD support line," claiming this was done by "the special advisor to Ben Wallace".

Paul Farthing, known as "Pen", has been battling to get all 25 staff from his animal welfare charity Nowzad and their families, as well as animals, out of the country.

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But the Defence Secretary dismissed the claims with some robust 'military language'.

"That's bollocks, Nick!"

He said Mr Farthing had been contacted and offered a flight out of the country.

"I strongly advise him to come to the airport and take a route out."

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Speaking to LBC, Mr Wallace said his advisers "don't stop anyone, they don't make those decisions."

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There are fears that the last evacuation flights could leave the country on August 31 as the Taliban tighten their grip, leaving thousands of vulnerable people with no means of escape.

The Defence Secretary said he "simply had to prioritise people over animals."

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Mr Wallace said there were some "really desperate" people in the queue to be evacuated from Afghanistan who faced a "bleak" future if they did not get out of the country.

Mr Farthing previously managed to get his wife and his heavily pregnant shelter manager out of the country, but warned the latter is now stranded in a "hell hole prison camp" in Germany.

Reacting to the Defence Secretary's comments Mr Farthing told LBC he needed to "get his facts straight."

He explained he was waiting for his staff to receive "official confirmation" of evacuation from the British government.

Mr Farthing also said he was not asking the MoD to process animals, that he had secured a flight and were happy to "sit on the airfield for a few days" until his plane was able to take off.

Britain has evacuated 8,600 people from Afghanistan in the past 10 days, including more than 2,000 in the previous 24 hours, according to figures given by the Defence Secretary.

The figure includes embassy staff, British nationals, those eligible under the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy (ARAP) programme and a number of nationals from partner nations, the MoD said.

Mr Wallace has insisted it would not be appropriate to try to secure Kabul airport with British troops after the US pulls out.