‘That’s just simply not right’: Raab denies prioritising Pen Farthing pets over refugees

7 December 2021, 08:22 | Updated: 7 December 2021, 08:57

By Emma Soteriou

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has told LBC that Pen Farthing's 'menagerie' of animals were not prioritised over getting more refugees out during the Afghanistan evacuation.

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It comes after a whistleblower claimed that the owner of the animal sanctuary was prioritised over bringing more people that had helped the British in Afghanistan.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari, Mr Raab said: "No, that's just simply not right."

"So he's totally wrong on that as well?" Nick asked.

Mr Raab said: "Look, I don't want to be too harsh on a whistleblower, particularly a relatively junior member of the office, but I'm going to also be very clear on the facts and that's not correct."

Read more: Pen Farthing has 'mixed emotions' after fleeing Kabul with animals and not staff

Whistleblower Raphael Marshall told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that the UK Foreign Office failed tens of thousands of Afghans after the Taliban swept to power.

In his statement, the former civil servant said: "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."

However, Mr Raab stood by the department's efforts bringing tens of thousands of people to the UK in two weeks.

He told Nick: "It was a very difficult set of operational conditions, but I point to the fact that in just two weeks we secured the evacuation of 15,000..."

He added: "That's the biggest operation in living memory and it is more than any other country - with the exception of the United States.

"The challenge was sifting through all of the people putting in the applications, making sure we had the basic facts to make informed decisions."

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