LONDON: Afghans died as a result of the actions of the former UK foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, during the disastrous withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, a high-level meeting of officials was told, The Guardian reported on Monday.
Raab, who is now the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, faces allegations that his decisions during the withdrawal were partially responsible for the UK’s lackluster evacuation efforts.
According to the report, a meeting called to discuss Raab’s conduct during the 2021 evacuation was told that “people had died” in Afghanistan because the former foreign minister decided not to read crucial new information.
Raab is also facing allegations of bullying behavior towards staff and claims that while foreign minister, he blocked important communications with high-level officials in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. At the time of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Raab faced significant criticism about his personal conduct when he went on holiday to Greece at the height of the crisis.
An official present at the meeting, which took place on May 6, said: “There was a long discussion to clarify that his behavior stepped over the mark from forthright to unprofessional.
“One deputy director relayed the extraordinary information that, when Raab was at FCDO, people had died when advice pertaining to the evacuation of Afghanistan had been delayed because he didn’t like the formatting.”
The official also alleged that Raab arrived hours late to meetings with high-level staff because he was exercising. The minister also needlessly “snapped at and belittled” staff, the official said.
In separate evidence during an inquiry into Raab’s conduct, former FCDO official Raphael Marshall said that the former foreign minister took “hours to engage” in high priority cases.
As a result, some Afghans who might otherwise have been able to leave the country failed to arrive at Kabul airport in time for flights on British aircraft, he added.
Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said: “This is yet more evidence that suggests Dominic Raab created a toxic culture at the FCDO that could have put lives on the line during the disastrous evacuation from Afghanistan.”
Raab was moved from his position and given the Justice Ministry portfolio in the wake of the Afghanistan withdrawal. He has consistently denied the allegations against him and has taken partial credit for Britain’s evacuation of almost 17,000 Afghans.