By Staff, Agencies UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has again been accused of lying to the public after new evidence emerged suggesting he personally authorized the controversial evacuation of 173 dogs and cats from Afghanistan. Johnson was accused of “stumbling from one scandal to the next” after an internal government email contradicted his claims that he hadn’t intervened to prioritize the animal airlift last August.

The new controversy comes as the PM awaits the results of the Sue Gray inquiry into whether he broke lockdown rules at Downing Street and lied about them.

In an email to a Foreign Office’s team managing part of the evacuation, an official, whose name is redacted, says that the animal charity Nowzad has “received a lot of publicity” and that “the PM has just authorized their staff and animals to be evacuated”.

On the same day as the email was sent, Trudy Harrison, Mr Johnson's parliamentary private secretary, contacted a private charter company – funded by a private sponsor – to secure a plane for the evacuation of animals and staff, Sky News reports.

A source at the company was reported as saying Ms Harrison was keen to get press on the plane in order to make the evacuation a good news story.

They said she kept talking about "the boss" and that it felt obvious her request came with his backing.

Ms Harrison admitted to the broadcaster she told staff of her role working with the prime minister, but insisted he was not involved in any evacuation plans.

Mr Johnson had previously said on 7 December last year that it was “complete nonsense” that he had intervened to have the animals evacuated and that he had “no influence on that particular case”.

He added: “Nor would that be right.” Minister Zac Goldsmith had also told the House of Lords that the prime minister’s claims were “entirely accurate” – suggesting he may have misled parliament.

Opposition politicians queued up to accused the prime minister of having yet again lied – as his political future lies in the balance.

John Healey, Labor’s shadow defense secretary, said that the prime minister had “once again” been “caught out lying about what he has been doing and deciding”.

Layla Moran, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesperson, said the episode illustrated that the prime minister was not “fit for office”, telling reporters: “It’s not just on parties that the PM’s statements don’t stand up to scrutiny.

This damning revelation shows that Boris Johnson has once again repeatedly lied to the British people.

Labor MP Chris Bryant, who objected to the move at the time, raised a point of order in the Commons about the matter and said the prime minister should come to parliament and answer questions about the episode.

“Either a government minister in the Foreign Office has lied, or the prime minister has lied,” Mr Bryant, chair of the Commons standards committee, said.

The Commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle said that ministers “are encouraged to correct inadvertently incorrect statements made to the house as quickly as possible if such a mistake has occurred”.

With an eye on Sue Gray’s delayed report, the Scottish National Party’s foreign affairs spokesperson Alyn Smith said Boris Johnson was “stumbling from one scandal to the next”.

Asked about the claims on Wednesday, the prime minister’s official spokesman said: “It remains the case that the PM didn’t instruct officials to take any particular course of action.” A No 10 spokesperson added: “The prime minister had no role in authorizing individual evacuations from Afghanistan during Op Pitting, including Nowzad staff and animals.

At no point did the prime minister instruct staff to take any particular course of action on Nowzad.” Lord Goldsmith, in whose private office the official who sent the email worked, said in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon: “I did not authorize and do not support anything that would have put animals’ lives ahead of people’s.” The failed Tory London mayoral candidate turned life peer added: “My position, which I made clear publicly, was that the UK should prioritize evacuating people.

I never discussed the Nowzad charity or their efforts to evacuate animals with the prime minister.” Ms Harrison confirmed to Sky News that she contacted private companies about the evacuation but said she did so “as a constituency MP”.

She was said to have admitted telling staff she was Mr Johnson’s PPS but said he was not involved in any evacuation plans.

The government has been criticized by whistleblowers and MPs for prioritizing the cats and dogs amid claims that they diverted limited resources on the ground from evacuating people.

The charity's founder, former royal marine Pen Farthing, denies these claims.

Though the charity chartered its own plane and put the animals in the hold, civil servants and MPs with knowledge of the operation on the ground said the capacity constraint at the airport was a limited number of soldiers able to escort people into the airport

Original Article Source: Al Ahed News | Published on Thursday, 27 January 2022 07:23 (about 901 days ago)