What did Pen Farthing say? Former Royal Marine apologises for foul language in voicemail to government aide
Mr Farthing threatened to “destroy” a special adviser on social media if he did not help arrange the evacuation of animals from Afghanistan
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A former Royal Marine has apologised for leaving an expletive-laden message for a government aide while trying to evacuate around 170 dogs and cats from an animal shelter in Afghanistan.
Paul “Pen” Farthing was captured berating Peter Quentin, a special adviser to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who he accused of “blocking” efforts to arrange the evacuation flight.
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What did Pen Farthing say?
In a recorded message obtained by The Times, reportedly sent on Monday, Mr Farthing threatened to "destroy" Mr Quentin on social media if he did not help arrange the evacuation of the animals.
According to reports, he said: "I just found out that it is you blocking me getting this flight out of Afghanistan for my staff and the animals. So here’s the deal buddy.
"You either get me that f****** Isaf number and you get me permission to get on to that f****** airfield, or tomorrow morning I’m going to turn on you and the whole f****** country, and everybody else who’s invested in this rescue, is going to know it’s you, you, blocking this f****** move. Alright?
“I will get my staff out of here and I’ll get so many other people out of here on this flight and then the dogs and cats are going in the cargo hold. Nobody can sit in the cargo hold, only the animals."
Mr Farthing demanded paperwork saying his staff had been "approved", adding that he would spend the rest of his time “f****** destroying you on social media and every other f****** platform I can find".
He added that he had served in the Royal Marines for 22 years and was "not taking this bollocks from people like you [Quentin] who are blocking me".
Mr Farthing has dismissed claims that he was helped by the UK government to get into Kabul airport with his animals, saying nobody facilitated his entry.
He explained: “I came up to the British checkpoint, that was the first time – and this is well into the airport, the Taliban and British are stood there, there’s some barbed wire separating them – that was the first time I spoke to any British people.
“So whoever is making any accusations or any comments needs to actually have been stood there on the ground to see how I got into that airport.
“Nobody facilitated my entry… any interpreters or anybody else, there was me and the truck full of dogs and cats, which went into a cargo hold where you cannot put people.”
‘I was at my lowest point’
On Monday (30 August), Mr Farthing apologised for his “colourful language” and explained that the aggressive message came when he was at his “lowest point”.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, he said: “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.”
Mr Farthing arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport in a privately funded charter flight at around 7.30am on Sunday (29 August), following his Operation Ark campaign to get workers and animals from the Nowzad shelter in Kabul out of the country.
The campaign became hugely topical on social media, but Mr Wallace had complained it was distracting from the focus on evacuating the most vulnerable out of Afghanistan.
Mr Farthing added that he was the only person on the evacuation flight, explaining he was unable to bring back the 24 charity workers and dependents he had wanted to, despite being told there was “enough capacity” to get the remaining people in the airport out.
He said: “I was probably like the last person to enter that airport – it was closed.
“Americans, the British, had obviously stopped taking people in because there had to be a point where they stopped taking people in.
“So they assured me they had enough capacity for everybody who was inside the airport.”
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly has since insisted that the government had prioritised the evacuation of people over animals.
He told LBC Radio: “We have always prioritised evacuating people over evacuating animals.
“Mr Farthing is a British national, he had the opportunity to leave Afghanistan much earlier. His staff are enrolled on to the scheme by which Afghans that worked with the British were able to be evacuated.
“But as I have said, we have always prioritised the evacuation of people.”
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