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Leaked letter suggests Boris Johnson backed dog and cat airlift from Kabul as Afghans sought refuge

“The prime minister’s fingers are all over this, aren’t they? And you’re just trying — I’m hesitant to use the words ‘cover up’ — but that’s what it feels like,” Bryant told officials.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday called allegations that he had intervened to help airlift nearly 200 dogs and cats from Kabul during the Afghanistan withdrawal crisis “complete nonsense,” The Washington post reports.

But the same day, a senior opposition lawmaker produced a letter from a top Johnson aide that “authorized” the animal evacuation. Chris Bryant, the lawmaker, also accused Downing Street of “covering up” the prime minister’s role in that operation, which took place as thousands of vulnerable Afghans scrambled to flee Taliban rule.

At the height of the crisis, Paul “Pen” Farthing, a former British Royal Marine who operated the Nowzad animal charity, pushed a high-profile social media campaign to get British and Taliban officials to give his staff and animals safe passage to the Kabul airport. Farthing eventually arrived in London on Aug. 29 on a privately chartered flight with his animals, but no staff. (Nowzad personnel later managed to flee, Farthing said.

Those social media efforts drew a sharp rebuke from British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, who complained they had “taken up too much time” in the middle of a humanitarian crisis and promised to prioritize people over pets. Johnson has denied intervening in the case — but the letter from a Conservative lawmaker who is also a top aide to the prime minister indicates he may have played some role.

In the Aug. 25 correspondence to Farthing, lawmaker Trudy Harrison wrote that she had received confirmation from various British government agencies that Farthing, his staff, their dependents and animals would be allowed to enter the airport and to leave on planes, according to Labour lawmaker Bryant, who read out the letter in Parliament. Animals would be evacuated on a separate flight that Britain’s Defense Ministry would give a departure slot to, the letter said.

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