Ex-Royal Marine Pen Farthing given go-ahead to leave Afghanistan with animals

  • Watch Natalie Gray's report here

Former Essex Royal Marine Pen Farthing has been told he can fly his staff and rescue animals out of Afghanistan after days of campaigning.

The 52-year-old, who is originally from Dovercourt, near Harwich, was given the go ahead overnight by UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Pen pictured with one of his animals.

It follows a campaign by Farthing, who has accused the Ministry of Defence of delaying his evacuation plans.

He had chartered a $500,000 plane to land at Kabul Airport and take his Nowzad charity workers and rescue animals out of the country.

But Farthing suggested his privately-funded flight was delayed by paperwork, while Mr Wallace told Good Morning Britain on August 24 he could not put "animals before people".

Farthing says the cats and dogs will be transported in the aircraft's hold leaving plenty of spare seats for other people with permission to travel to the UK.

Posting on Twitter today (August 25), Mr Wallace confirmed Farthing will now be able to land his aircraft at the airport and evacuate his animals.

“Now that Pen Farthing’s staff have been cleared to come forward under LOTR, I have authorised MOD to facilitate their processing alongside all other eligible personnel at HKIA," the defence minister tweeted.

"At that stage, if he arrives with his animals we will seek a slot for his plane.

"If he does not have his animals with him, he and his staff can board an RAF flight.

"I have been consistent all along, ensuring those most at risk are processed first and that the limiting factor has been flow THROUGH to airside NOT airplane capacity.

"No one has the right in this humanitarian crisis to jump the queue."

It's not sure when the animal airlift will happen. Credit: ITV News

It's not sure when the animal airlift will happen . But the flight is expected to land at Heathrow with people already lined up to take in the animals.