Top Foreign Office civil servant who was on holiday during fall of Kabul ‘should resign’


Sir Philip’s holiday attracted criticism from Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who said he had “very serious concerns” that the “ethos” of public service “isn’t being followed at the head of the organisation”.

Sir Philip replied that he is “true to the ethos of public service”.

“I try to live by that,” he said. “That is what motivates me in my job.”

Lord Dannatt told The Telegraph that Sir Philip’s “extraordinary” holiday should end his 35-year career in diplomacy.

“Where is the leadership in that? Why should junior officials carry the burden?” he said.

“I would suggest his position is untenable. That post is the senior leadership position and in times of crisis, leaders stand up. I’m stunned by the fact that he was away on holiday and remained on holiday.”

Chris Bryant, who sits on the foreign affairs committee, said: “It just feels to me as if the whole leadership, from the very top all the way down was missing. It was absent without leave.”

‘Painful lessons to be learned’

Lord Peter Ricketts, Sir Philip’s predecessor as head of the Foreign Office, said the department had “painful lessons” to learn.

“I’ve been surprised by some of the details I’ve heard about understaffing, and I think there are questions about leadership through a crisis as serious as that,” he told BBC Radio 4.

A senior officer who worked on Operation Pitting on the ground in Afghanistan said: “You can’t lead from afar, and I’m sure you can’t lead from a villa in Spain, or wherever he was on holiday.”

Sir Philip himself refused to disclose where he was during his time off, but admitted he spent some of the time abroad.

Following Mr Marshall’s testimony, the mandarin said there “isn’t a clocking-off culture” in the FCDO but that staff had been kept to eight-hour shifts to prevent “burnout”.

Mr Marshall said a culture of “work-life balance” in the department had led to gaps in the roster of staff and a shortage of officials to process requests for evacuations from refugees.

“It is clear that some of those left behind have since been murdered by the Taliban,” he said.

The witness statement personally blamed Mr Raab, now the Justice Secretary, for failing to reply quickly enough to crucial emails at the height of the crisis.

In an interview on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning, Mr Raab said he did not think his shortcomings during the evacuations was the reason for his sacking as Foreign Secretary.

“I am pretty confident from what [the Prime Minister] said to me that it wasn’t in relation to Afghanistan,” he said.

“On the charge that it took several hours to make decisions … we’re not talking about days, it’s not being suggested weeks, but several hours to make sure that we had the facts,” he said, adding that he replied to messages with a “reasonably swift turnaround”.


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