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Former UK FM defends Afghan evacuation

Former British foreign secretary Dominic Raab has defended his handling of the evacuation of Afghanistan after a whistleblower alleged he led a “dysfunctional” and “chaotic” operation.

Raphael Marshall, who worked for the Foreign Office during the effort, claimed that just 5 per cent of Afghan nationals who applied to flee under one UK scheme received help.

Some were murdered after being left behind in Kabul after the Taliban swept to power, he alleged while giving devastating evidence to a select committee of MPs.

Marshall told the Foreign Affairs Select Committee that at one point he was the only person monitoring an inbox where pleas for help were directed.

Raab, who was moved from the Foreign Office to become Justice Secretary after his handling of the crisis, sought to defend his record from the allegations on Tuesday.

“It’s inaccurate in certain respects, the suggestion that junior desk officers were making decisions is just not correct,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

“There’s a difference between processing and deciding, so I’m afraid I don’t accept that characterisation.

“On the charge it took several hours to make decisions, we’re not talking about days, it’s not been suggested weeks, but several hours to make sure we had the facts, and that, as between myself, the Home Secretary and the Defence Secretary, decisions were made and actually I would suggest that’s a reasonably swift turnaround.

“And in terms of presentation, of course with the volume of claims coming in I make no apology for saying I needed the clear facts that each case presented precisely so we can make swift decisions.

“Some of the criticism seems rather dislocated from the facts on the ground, the operational pressures that with the takeover of the Taliban, unexpected around the world … I do think that not enough recognition has been given to quite how difficult it was.”

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