A former Royal Marine at the centre of a row over evacuating animals from Afghanistan ahead of people has hit out at “ill-informed comments” from “armchair pundits”.
Paul “Pen” Farthing arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport in a privately funded charter flight at about 7.30am on Sunday, following his Operation Ark campaign to get workers and animals from the Nowzad shelter in Kabul out of the country.
However, he spoke of the need for less criticism and more action, as he said he was still working to help evacuate 68 animal shelter staff and family members from the country after ensuring the transportation of more than 150 dogs and cats to the UK.
The Nowzad staff and dependents, including 25 children and one new-born baby, are still in the country.
“We need to focus on ... getting those vulnerable vets and vet nurses and their children out of Kabul, rather than having to deal with ill-informed comments from MPs, the press and armchair pundits.”
Farthing said: “We’d like to thank the Home Office, FCDO, MoD and all of Govt for their support with Op Ark, and look forward to working closely with them over the coming weeks whilst we complete our mission, getting those 68 people out of Afghanistan and back to safety.
“Whilst those vulnerable staff, mostly young women, remain in danger in Afghanistan, we shall not rest.
“In the same way that the MoD needs to be left alone to get on with the important work of evacuating staff and troops out of Afghanistan, likewise we need to focus on the second and most important part of Op Ark, getting those vulnerable vets and vet nurses and their children out of Kabul, rather than having to deal with ill-informed comments from MPs, the press and armchair pundits.”
Farthing’s Operation Ark campaign to get workers and animals from the shelter out of Afghanistan has caused controversy in recent days, after receiving a huge amount of public support.
All of the almost 100 dogs and 70 cats on the flight were “healthy”, with the dogs placed in kennels, according to Dominic Dyer, an animal welfare campaigner and supporter of Farthing.
Defence secretary Ben Wallace complained some of Farthing’s more militant supporters had “taken up too much time” of senior commanders.
It comes after the ex-Marine apologised for leaving an expletive-laden message for a government aide as he was trying to carry out the evacuation.
On Monday, Farthing told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I’m incredibly embarrassed about my language, I do apologise to everybody who’s listened to that.
“I was at the lowest point I could possibly be.
“I understand how the world works but emotions got the better of me, so for all those who had to listen to that I do apologise for my language.
“I should not have said it like that, but the sentiment, yes, I was just incredibly upset, angry, frustrated, it was the lowest point.
“I had no other option, I didn’t know what else to do.
“So that’s why you’ve probably heard some colourful language.”