Person on no-fly list flown to UK during Kabul evacuation, Govt confirms

24 August 2021, 06:59 | Updated: 25 August 2021, 06:09

The person who was on the no-fly list is no longer considered a person of interest
The person who was on the no-fly list is no longer considered a person of interest. Picture: Alamy
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

An individual on the no-fly list was flown into the UK from Afghanistan during the evacuation of Kabul, a government official confirmed on Monday.

The unidentified person was brought into the country on board a British military plane but is no longer considered a risk, the official said.

They were flown into Birmingham despite having been on a list of people the government considers a risk to national security.

"An individual was flagged to the Home Office as part of the rigorous checks process, involving the police, security services and others," the Home Office spokesperson said in a statement.

"However, upon further investigation, they are not a person of interest to the security agencies or law enforcement."

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Lawmakers were reportedly told in a briefing that five people on the watch list had attempted to make their way to the UK with British military help but four of them had been stopped.

The fifth, who made it to Birmingham, has since been free to continue the vetting process for those arriving from Kabul.

"There are people in Afghanistan who represent a serious threat to national security and public safety," a government spokesperson said.

"That is why thorough checks are taking place by government, our world-class intelligence agencies and others. If someone is assessed as presenting as a risk to our country, we will take action."

Labour's shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said on Twitter that the incident was "an example of the security risks we face as a result of the chronic failure of planning on Afghanistan".

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He added: "An organised exit strategy would have ensured the necessary checks were in place, so this kind of lapse couldn’t happen. The fault rests - firmly - with Tory Ministers."

The UK has evacuated more than 7,000 people from Afghanistan since the Taliban seized control less than two weeks ago, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Those rescued include British nationals and their dependents, embassy staff, Afghan nationals eligible under the government's Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy programme and a number of nationals from partner nations.

Operation Pitting has seen more than 4,226 Afghan individuals and their families evacuated, while more than 1,000 UK Armed Forces personnel have been deployed in Kabul.

The MoD said the evacuation process will run as long as the security situation allows in coordination with the US but no firm date has yet been set for the end of evacuation flights.