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31st Aug 2021

Kirstie Allsopp brands Pen Farthing’s Afghanistan pet rescue a ‘betrayal’

Kieran Galpin

pen-farthing splash

“I don’t care how complex it is”

As the Taliban marked their victory in Afghanistan with a symbolic walk across Kabul airport’s runway, TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp was fighting a war of her own online after criticising Paul ‘Pen’ Farthing’s attempts to rescue hundreds of dogs and cats from the country.

The Location Location Location presenter caused quite a stir on Twitter on Monday after dubbing the ex-royal marine’s rescue mission of 173 dogs and cats a “betrayal” that she “simply could not conceive”.

Britain has followed Farthing’s evacuation closely since the fall of Kabul on August 15. Farthing refused to leave the capital without his animals that were being cared for by his charity Nowzad, which he set up during a tour of Afghanistan back in 2006.

After numerous attempts to reach evacuation points, and his numerous repeated TV appearances to garner support for the cause, Farthing raised £365,000 to charter a jet for his group- animals included.

Farthing finally touched down at Heathrow on Sunday with “mixed emotions”, days after a suicide bombing attack at Kabul airport killed almost 200 people  – including two British citizens.

Allsopp later let her feelings be known about Farthing, unconsciously starting a debate that would see over 1k comments, 300 shares, and 2.5k likes.

“If I were left in Afghanistan, or were trying to get a member of my family out, I simply could not conceive how we could get dogs & cats on a plane to the UK but not humans,” she tweeted.

“We have betrayed and let down so many people and then told them straight up that animals matter more.”

Though many Twitter users were quick to jump on Allsopp, demanding “she do [her] homework & stop spreading misinfo”, the TV presenter raised a valid concern surrounding the animal evacuation and the fate of Nowzad’s own staff.

Nowzad, Farthing’s own charity, released a statement to their Facebook on Sunday that shared troubling news.

“We are relieved to confirm that Pen and the Nowzad animals [have] left Afghanistan and are now safe,” Nowzad wrote.

“However, we still have much to do as our wonderful team in Kabul were not allowed through the final barrier.

“It was a devastating blow to us. We are now working extremely hard to get them evacuated and will not rest until they too are safe.”

With countless people stranded in a Taliban-controlled Kabul, Allsopp has highlighted the disparities between the treatment of Farthing’s animals and those still trapped in Afghanistan, including hundreds of Brits.

“Imagine how you would feel seeing those animals gain access to the airport while you still waited in a sewage ditch with your exhausted and terrified children,” she replied to a Twitter user who stated it was a private aircraft.

Farthing on Monday apologied after a recording acquired by the Times appeared to show he had shouted at Peter Quentin, who works as a special adviser to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. The charity worker accuses the minister and his aide of “blocking” his evacuation flight.

He said: “So here’s the deal, buddy. You either get me that f***ing Isaf number and you get me permission to get onto that f***ing airfield, or tomorrow morning I’m going to turn on you and the whole f***ing country, and everybody else who’s invested in this rescue, is going to know it’s you — YOU — blocking this f***ing move. Alright?”

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