Ben Wallace dismisses Pen Farthing’s ‘cut off’ claims
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Ricky Gervais said on Twitter today: “Dear stupid c***s saying we shouldn’t put animals before people. 1. The animals go in the hold where people can’t go. 2. This is an extra, privately funded plane that will allow MORE people to be saved #OperationArk.”
It comes after former marine and animal rescuer, Pen Farthing, slammed Defence Secretary Ben Wallace who said he would not “prioritise animals” over people.
Mr Farthing, who founded Afghan dog charity, Nowzad, says he has been denied a visa for a private plane to evacuate him, his team and his animals from Kabul.
Mr Farthing had paid for a private plane to fly him from Afghanistan as he was unable to put his animals on government flights. He said the jet would carry some evacuees and the animals would be placed in the cargo hold.
The Defence Secretary told Sky News he was concerned the private plane would hold up evacuation efforts as it would take a long time for people to be processed and eventually board the jet.
He said: “As for the animals that he was rescuing, it is just not going to be the case that I will prioritise them over the men, women and children we see in desperate need at the gate. I regret that, but I don’t believe the Taliban’s main point of target will be his workforce and animals, compared to the people at the front of the queue.”
Pen Farthing responded to Ricky Gervais’ tweet today, saying: “I know… right? The cargo hold is empty- we put the dogs and cats in there! And 250 people above in the cabin!”
More than 19,000 have liked Gervais’ impassioned tweet.
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Shadow Justice Minister, Karl Turner, responded: “Strong words (and I wouldn’t use it) but understandable in the circumstances.
“Ricky is right, isn’t he. Dogs and cats are contained in the belly of the airplane where people cannot go and, as I understand it, this is indeed a privately funded plane and will allow more people to escape.”
Another woman said: “Animal lives are just as important as human lives.”
A third user added: “You can’t convince me that [pets] are not important to quality of life. Besides, they aren’t taking seats from people so the argument is mute anyway.”
Speaking on LBC today, Ben Wallace said that Mr Farthing and his team are eligible to leave Afghanistan but “this is not about simply the issue of a plane coming in, this is about the flow of those gates”.
He continued: “I simply have to prioritise people over animals, I have some really desperate people in that queue who are really under threat of life and death and if we don’t get them out their future is very very bleak.
“I simply have to prioritise those people over pets but it doesn’t mean to say we don’t care about animals.”
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