The Foreign Office has admitted misleading MPs over whether Boris Johnson authorised the evacuation of Pen Farthings dog rescue charity Nowzad from Afghanistan last year.
But you won’t realise that from looking at the BBC report!
Foreign Office boss admits error over Afghan animal evacuation reads as though Johnson had nothing to do with it.
And you have to read a long way into the story to discover that Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, was saying that he had not seen emails sent within his department, indicating that Boris Johnson did indeed authorise the evacuation.
If he did, then he lied about it to the media afterwards, when it was suggested that he had prioritised animals over human beings.
People the UK abandoned in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over have since tried to reach this country via the refugee route – crossing the Channel – and this has led to at least one death.
Appearing before the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday, the prime minister’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Nigel Casey was asked if he knew whether the PM had intervened “in the evacuation of Nowzad staff or animals” and replied: “Not to my knowledge.”
In written evidence to the committee, published on Wednesday, Sir Philip denied that Mr Casey had received “any correspondence referring to the prime minister’s intervention in the Nowzad case”.
This was contradicted in leaked emails published by the committee subsequently.
And BBC Newsnight’s Sima Kotecha has seen two emails with the subject heading “Pen Farthing and dogs”, showing the Foreign Office and Mr Casey sought guidance from No 10 over the issue.
So now Sir Philip has had to write back to the committee, apologising for misleading its members.
But he stuck to the part of the story covering his involvement:
“As Nigel said to the committee on [Tuesday] he has no recollection of having seen emails in which staff attributed this decision to the prime minister. Nor do I.”
Downing Street is saying that the decision may have been interpreted as coming from Johnson when that was not the case – but it has provided no evidence to support this claim.
So Labour’s Chris Bryant, a member of the committee, is well within his rights to say (as he did on BBC Breakfast News): “All I want to know is who made the decision?”
We all want to know that, Chris. At the moment it seems clear that Johnson has lied again and our civil servants are disgracing themselves in their haste to cover up for him.
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