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Defence Secretary Accuses Animal Rights Campaigners Of "Bullying" Over Afghanistan Evacuations

3 min read

Ben Wallace has denied accusations of blocking an animal rescue charity from attempting to fly more than 100 animals out of Afghanistan.

The defence secretary claimed it was a "total myth" that he had attempted to stop former Royal Marine Paul 'Pen' Farthing from evacuating animals rescued by his charity alongside 70 Afghan staff from Kabul airport.

Farthing, who runs a large animal charity in Afghanistan had blamed the UK government for delays in reaching the capital's airport where he expected he would be able to board a crowdfunded charter aircraft out of the country.

The UK government has said that Farthing's flight will be able to go ahead, but will passengers to pass through the official evacuation process. 

In a series of infuriated Tweets on Thursday, Wallace insisted the delay had been caused by chaos at Kabul airport, adding the rumour had been "peddled" by supporters of Farthing's charity.

"Let's get some facts out there... no one, at any stage has blocked a flight. This is a myth being peddled around as if that is why the pet evacuation hasn't taken place," he wrote.

"I never said I would not facilitate. I said no one would get to queue jump."

He added: "The issue, as those desperate people waiting outside the gates know too well, has always been getting processed through the entrances. It can take over 24hrs.

"There is no point turning up with a plane until the passengers/pets are airside."

Farthing, who has been campaiging for assistance in removing the more than 200 dogs and cats rescued by his charity, claimed on Wednesday his team had been waiting "10 hours after being assured that we would have safe passage".

There has been scenes of chaos outside the airport as people desperately wait to board flights run out of the country, with Taliban roadblocks slowing progress of those attempting to reach the US and UK occupied site.

But Wallace hit back at the former solider, saying while he would "faciliate" the evacuation that the "priority will be people not pets".

He added: "The bullying, falsehoods and threatening behaviour by some towards our MOD personnel and advisors is unacceptable and a shameful way to treat people trying to help the evacuation.

"They do their cause no good.

"So can people now please let my civil servants and military get on with dealing with one of the most dangerous and challenging evacuations for a generation."

Speaking earlier on Thursday, Boris Johnson denied claims that he had or Carrie Johnson personally overruled the defence secretary over the flight saying he had "absolutely no influence on any particular case, nor would that be right".

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