Zac Goldsmith has insisted a civil servant who works in his private office was mistaken when he emailed last August to say Boris Johnson had authorized the rescue of Pen Farthing and the cats and dogs of his Kabul charity.
The Foreign Secretary told the House of Lords that the email ‘was not sent under my instructions’ and that the decision to allow Farthing to fly had in fact been ‘communicated publicly by the Secretary to Defense in tweets” on August 25.
Goldsmith faced questions over the evacuation of the former Royal Marine, a week after an email from a Foreign Office official dated August 25 said that “the Prime Minister has just authorized “staff and animals of the charity Farthing’s Nowzad to be flown to the UK. .
The minister told his peers “I don’t deny there is some confusion,” but that he believed the official had misrepresented the situation. “It is not uncommon in Whitehall… for decisions to be interpreted or presented as coming directly from one department or another, even from the Prime Minister, even when that is not the case,” he said. he declares.
The controversy over the rescue of Farthing and his charity’s cats and dogs in Kabul has been going on for months, amid accusations that it amounted to prioritizing ‘pets over people’. A Farthing ally, lobbyist Dominic Dyer, has repeatedly said he understands the Prime Minister authorized a privately funded rescue flight.
But Johnson and Downing Street have denied clearing Farthing’s plane to land, leading to a row that has raised new questions about the prime minister’s integrity. Johnson insisted last week that ‘it’s all total rhubarb’, while Labor said he had been ‘caught in the act of lying’.
Goldsmith told the Lords that ‘animals were never given priority over people at any time’ during the fortnight’s emergency airlift from Kabul. Johnson had “no role in authorizing individual evacuations from Afghanistan”, he said.
Labor peer Lord Collins was skeptical and asked: ‘Why did anyone in his private office believe the decision to facilitate this animal-carrying had been approved by the Prime Minister? Is this his private office?
In his response, Goldsmith said the Foreign Office official in question was seconded to the Emergency Evacuation Unit at the time. “The email was not sent under my instructions. It has not been sent to my knowledge. It was part of a larger process,” he said.
Farthing had been informed last August that the bailout had been approved by the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretary, Trudy Harrison. The MP had written, in a letter which later leaked, that “I have received confirmation…that you, your staff and their dependents are cleared to travel”. He was signed using his official title.
No 10, however, said at the time that she was writing ‘in her capacity as a constituency MP’, despite Farthing not being one of her constituents.