Boris Johnson personally authorised the airlift of employees from a former UK serviceman’s Kabul-based animal charity when the Taliban seized management of Afghanistan’s capital metropolis final 12 months, in keeping with a British authorities whistleblower.
Josie Stewart, a senior official on the International, Commonwealth and Improvement Workplace who beforehand labored on the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, mentioned there was “in depth proof”, together with inner emails, that confirmed the choice to prioritise the evacuation of Pen Farthing’s Nowzad charity got here from the prime minister.
One other whistleblower who used to work for the FCDO has claimed Johnson intervened to airlift Nowzad’s animals from Kabul, and that pleas for assist from hundreds of determined Afghans searching for to flee the Taliban had been ignored.
Raphael Marshall, who was additionally concerned within the UK withdrawal from Afghanistan, advised the Home of Commons overseas affairs choose committee in December there was a “direct trade-off” between transporting Nowzad’s animals and evacuating UK and Afghan nationals, together with those that had served with British troopers.
Johnson has beforehand dismissed Marshall’s testimony that he intervened to prioritise Nowzad’s employees and animals as “whole rhubarb”.
In seven pages of written testimony to the committee, Stewart mentioned it was “widespread data” within the FCDO’s Afghanistan disaster centre that “the choice on Nowzad’s Afghan employees got here from the prime minister”.
Stewart mentioned: “I noticed messages to this impact on Microsoft Groups, I heard it mentioned within the disaster centre together with by senior civil servants, and I used to be copied on quite a few emails which clearly steered this and which nobody, together with Nigel Casey [UK special representative for Afghanistan] appearing as Disaster Gold [team leader], challenged.”
Stewart mentioned the choice to prioritise Nowzad’s employees within the evacuation of Kabul final August was “solely in response to this PM choice” and went towards the judgment of officers.
She referred to an electronic mail from Casey that she was copied into that mentioned Sir Stephen Lovegrove, Johnson’s nationwide safety adviser, “would search enter on the Nowzad case from Quantity 10”.
Stewart, head of the illicit finance unit on the FCDO, mentioned she was not conscious of a “deliberate choice to prioritise animals over individuals”. However she said the Nowzad choice was “not in step with coverage” and “carried vital alternative price by way of the quantity of senior civil servant time spent on the case”.
Stewart additionally accused Sir Philip Barton, head of the FCDO, of deceptive parliament over proof relating to the prime minister’s involvement in Nowzad.
Barton advised the committee in January that Casey had not acquired any correspondence about Johnson and Nowzad.
Stewart mentioned: “Nigel Casey explicitly testified that he had searched his emails and located nothing of relevance, but once I searched my emails for ‘PM’ and ‘Nowzad’ I discovered a couple of electronic mail referencing ‘the PM’s choice on Nowzad’ and with Nigel Casey in copy.”
At a listening to of the International Affairs committee on Monday, Barton and Casey mentioned they weren’t sure who authorised the evacuation of Nowzad employees.
Casey advised MPs: “Because it turns on the market was an excellent cause why none of us might do not forget that, and that’s as a result of we had not been advised on the time and we haven’t been since.”
He added that he and Barton had answered the committee’s questions “in good religion, to the very best of our data on the time”.
In response, Labour’s Chris Bryant mentioned: “I discover it troublesome to imagine you.”
Stewart criticised the “lack of accountability” over the International Workplace’s administration of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
“I really feel a powerful sense of ethical damage for having been a part of one thing so badly managed, and so centered on managing reputational danger and political fallout fairly than the precise disaster and related human tragedy,” she mentioned.
“This manifest failure led to confusion, unattainable calls for on the disaster staff and compounded human tragedy in Kabul.”
The FCDO mentioned: “Always, officers have responded to the committee’s questions in good religion, on the premise of the proof out there to us on the time.
“We’re rightly happy with our employees who labored tirelessly to evacuate greater than 15,000 individuals from Afghanistan inside a fortnight.
“The prime minister has made clear he had no position in authorising particular person evacuations from Afghanistan . . . together with Nowzad employees and animals.”
Downing Road didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.