"That's not on my radar. What's on my radar is that this ill-thought out withdrawal has destroyed a country overnight and cost countless lives.'"Whatever your feelings about Pen Farthing, he's not wrong about this, is he?
...it took six days for the paperwork to be completed. They immediately crated up the cats and dogs, put wives and children on a bus and headed in a convoy to the airport. It was a mission that few thought he'd pull off in a city that was falling apart as the Taliban roamed the streets with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
But Pen, who left the Royal Marines in 2009, has the commando spirit writ through him –and a marine never gives up. Miraculously, he negotiated passage for two truckloads of crated animals and a busload of Afghans through two Taliban checkpoints to the commander at the South Gate – only to be barred from entering.
And why? Not the vicious uncivilised Taliban, but the incompetent Western leaders.
US President Joe Biden had changed the rules just three hours earlier only allowing those through with passports and visas to control the growing numbers inside the airport.
'We were inside, all of us inside with the right paperwork, but we were three hours too late. Biden had changed the rules.' He shakes his head. 'Three bloody hours – if they'd pulled their finger out and got the paperwork to us just a day before my staff would have been out with me.'
And what to do to try to prevent PR disaster for the British government? Go on the attack. And so they did. No, not against the Taliban, don't be silly:
...the animals, albeit frightened, are healthy and will soon be released from quarantine, despite briefings from Whitehall sources that they are riddled with disease and may have to be put down.
'Whoever's saying that is talking a crock of crap,' says Pen, once again not mincing his words. 'One of the things we pride ourselves on at Nowzad [his animal shelter in Kabul] is every single animal is fully vaccinated for rabies, parvovirus, distemper, kennel cough, they're treated for fleas and ticks and dewormed.
'They're all neutered and spayed and the blood samples are sent to DEFRA to prove they've got the relevant antibodies for rabies.'
We should test the civil servants briefing against him for that...