Pen Farthing 'upset' over 'misinformation' surrounding mission
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On Monday afternoon, Pen Farthing and wife Kaisa Markhus joined the Loose Women panel to discuss their reunion after being separated trying to flee Afghanistan. Whilst speaking about their experience, panellist Carol McGiffin asked Pen what he thought about the backlash he had received trying to save the animals after he’d made numerous pleas for both he and the pets in his care to be guided to safety.
Talking to the former Royal Marine, Carol asked: “Were you surprised or shocked, I mean, obviously, you were, by the amount of misinformation that surrounded what you were trying to do there?
“Because you’ve tried really hard, haven’t you to try and put things right and put the facts out there, how is that now are people feeling any different about what you did?”
Pen agreed and explained: “I was shocked, absolutely shocked. I think it comes back to you having this discussion later about people with Covid and friendships and people having arguments.
“It’s the same thing I’m quite happy for everybody to have their own opinion, but I’d actually like them to read facts first before they have an opinion,” he said.
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“That was what upset me was the fact that people were making comments on something they had absolutely no idea about.
“Yes, we had animals that were going to leave Afghanistan, but they were going into the cargo hold on a commercial flight where people would be sat in the actual passenger cabin plus extra people we could bring along to make sure more people escaped than that.”
Pen and wife Kaisa landed in London Heathrow with his 173 dogs and cats after his heartbreak at leaving devoted shelter staff behind.
Nearly 200 animals he was travelling with from Kabul have been in quarantine under UK law, with Pen revealing they will soon be allowed out.
Charlene White also went on to ask: “Is there a part of you, Pen, that feels like because of the misinformation in regarding that flight.
“The animals almost became more important than the Afghan people who were also desperately trying to get out, and suddenly the animals became the story almost?”
Thinking about what she had said, Pen replied: “Yeah, I mean for me, it was always about the people and animals, so I saw an opportunity there.
“My staff, they would have been in danger, obviously I’m a known former Royal Marine commander whose stories out there that I served in Helmand.
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“We looked after obviously dogs and cats, but dogs in particular especially we help down at the embassies with the working dogs and the airport with their security dogs.
“So, it was always about for me, the staff and getting them out to safety and obviously the animals – we couldn’t just leave them behind.
“Who’s going to look after them? So I never ever saw an issue with being able to rescue both at the same time because we had that plan, well we’ve got that aircraft.”
Pen’s dramatic evacuation gripped the nation, especially as his Afghan members of staff and their families were forced to stay behind.
His wife Kaisa was evacuated out of Afghanistan on almost an empty plane, finally arriving in the UK on August 19.
She and a pregnant American friend pushed their way through a sea of men, women, and children to get to an access gate.
Speaking about their separation, Pen said: “For me, I think I had a plan to get into the airport, I knew where I was going, but I think from Kaisa’s perspective on it that was a lot different.
“She actually did try to go through one of those smaller gates, and so I was terrified for her, the fact that I knew she had to get into that mix to try and get through into the airport, that was just horrendous.”
Loose Women airs weekdays at 12:30pm on ITV.
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