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Sunday, 24 October 2021
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Pen Farthing is a hero, ‘where press and political attention goes, the Commission will follow’

A former Marine’s heroic personal mission to bring rescue animals and his charity’s staff back to the UK as the Taliban took over Afghanistan is being examined by the Charity Commission.

The regulator is ‘looking into’ the funding arrangements of his charity Nowzad’s Operation Ark, which raised more than £200,000 from loyal supporters in days.

Pen Farthing is a man who was brave enough to stay behind in a country that was deserted overnight by a military that had occupied it for nearly twenty years as evil forces were allowed to just swoop in.

He stayed to rescue the animals and do his utmost to ensure the safety of his employees.

Now, despite all the stress and anxiety that would have undoubtedly caused both him and his colleagues, the Charity Commission has contacted the charity for ‘further information’ after allegedly receiving reports around the ‘governance and financial arrangements’ of Operation Ark. 

It is examining the use of charity funds for the evacuation, and whether it is ‘in line’ with the charity’s purpose.

It infuriates me that we do this to the reputations of good people on a whim, and while I understand the need to ensure things are done correctly, this in itself will be a drain on the charity’s finances that they allegedly care about and equally the charity’s and individuals reputation. Not to mention the added personal strain this will bring to the man’s mental health which I’m sure has suffered enough.

In its objectives the Nowzad charity aims to relieve the suffering of animals in Afghanistan; including companion animals, working equines, stray and abandoned dogs and cats and all other animals in need of care and attention, and to provide and maintain rescue, rehabilitation and education facilities for the care and treatment of such animals with no voice but ours.

I would say this man and his team have gone above and beyond the call of duty to relieve the suffering of those animals, in circumstances, many could not imagine let alone endure.

Public trial by media and politics is not the way to handle these things, his heroics do not deserve this. He should be given a knighthood and his team a well-deserved night out!

A national hero who should never have to pay for a drink again.

Pippa Garland, charities partner at law firm Russell-Cooke, told Charity Today:

“This follows the now fairly well-established precedent that where press and political attention goes, the Commission will follow. As with the National Trust, Barnados and the Runnymede Trust, the Commission will be establishing whether the charity’s actions fell within its objects and were in its best interest. From a charity law perspective, it seems clear that they were, and one hopes that, in the circumstances, the Commission will overlook non-material procedural failures in decision making.

“Paul Farthing has shown his willingness to stand up to the authorities, and one suspects he will willingly do so again. Given the success of Nowzad’s evacuation mission and its passionate supporter base, it is unlikely that the charity will come to regret the actions that it took. But Commission inquiries come with potentially serious consequences, and are a drain on resources: other charities that court the media, or attract controversy, should ensure they are ready to answer the Commission’s questions if they come knocking.”

In a confident and cooperative statement Nowzad said: 

“The trustees are wholly confident that Nowzad’s life-saving work in incredibly difficult circumstances was both the right and only thing to do and was absolutely in furtherance of the charity’s purpose.

“The trustees of course recognise that it is entirely proper for the Commission to gather more information regarding this high-profile and unprecedented operation and are very happy to provide the information requested.”

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