Dominic Raab delayed Kabul rescue over email formatting, whistleblower claims


Dominic Raab delayed Kabul rescue over email formatting and took ‘several hours’ to approve the airlifts, whistleblower claims

  • Dominic Raab delayed decisions on evacuations due to email format complaints
  • Former foreign secretary criticised for taking ‘several hours’ to approve rescues
  • A whistleblower has said Mr Raab ‘did not fully understand the situation’ 
  • Former civil servant Raphael Marshall criticised Foreign Office;s handling










Dominic Raab needlessly delayed a decision on evacuations from Afghanistan as he complained about the formatting of an email, the whistleblower claims.

Former civil servant Raphael Marshall claims the then foreign secretary ‘took several hours’ to approve the cases of people desperate to be airlifted despite the race against time.

On August 25, three days before a final mercy flight left Kabul, Mr Raab was sent a list of potential evacuees including Afghan soldiers and women’s rights activists.

But according to Mr Marshall’s evidence, the minister said he needed ‘all the cases set out in a well-presented table to make decisions’. 

Stowaways climbing the plane trying to leave Kabul after Taliban takeover

Stowaways climbing the plane trying to leave Kabul after Taliban takeover

‘For the Foreign Secretary to make this request suggests he did not fully understand the situation,’ the whistleblower writes.

Cases affected included a senior Afghan soldier and his family. ‘I believe this family did not succeed in entering the airport,’ writes Mr Marshall. 

He says submissions detailing ‘exceptional cases’ were sent to the Foreign Secretary for approval in the final days of the airlift. 

‘It took several hours for the Foreign Secretary to engage on any of these notes.

‘In the circumstances, I am not sure why. The foreign secretary then replied through his private office to say that he could not decide on individual cases and he would need all the cases set out in a well-presented table to make decisions. 

‘I understand that he or his private office had commented that as a lawyer he could not take information without the full facts in a table.

‘We therefore reformatted the table and sent it back to the foreign secretary.’

Mr Marshall adds: ‘In my opinion, for the foreign secretary to make this request suggests he did not fully understand the situation… there was very little time left for anyone to enter the airport, therefore the foreign secretary’s choice to cause a delay suggests he did not understand the desperate situation at Kabul Airport.’

He continues: ‘In my opinion, it is likely that the decisions the foreign secretary initially declined to make were less ambiguous than decisions made by relatively junior FCDO employees.’

A source close to Mr Raab last night said: ‘We evacuated over 500 special cases, including journalists, women’s rights activists and extremely vulnerable individuals. 

‘The major practical challenge to evacuation was verifying identity and securing safe passage to the airport, not the speed of decision making. At all times, the team’s focus was on saving lives.’

Mr Raab was ousted as foreign secretary in the September cabinet reshuffle following widespread criticism of his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

The Daily Mail revealed that while on holiday, he failed to make a crucial phone call to the Afghan foreign minister to seek help airlifting translators out of the country. 

But the minister, who was at a beach resort in Crete, did not make the call and it was delegated to a junior minister – but it never took place.

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Written by Bourbiza Mohamed

A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer in the field of information technology, cyber security, and blockchain

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