Royston Smith (Con) asks how many emails sent to the Foreign Office about people needing help in Afghanistan went unread.
Barton says they received an uprecedented volume of correspondence. They had to prioritise, he says. He says they ensured every MP got a reply.
Q: How authorised the prioritisation of animals over people?
That did not happen, says Barton.
Q: So how did animals get evacuated before people?
Barton disputes that that happened. He says there was a charter flight.
Casey says the charter flight was only allowed out after the evacuation of people had finished.
Q: How much staff time did allowing the charter flight out take?
Casey says this did not distract from the evacuation effort.
Tom Tugendhat, the committee chairs, says if the gates to the airport were open to allow the people and animals boarding the charter flight onto the airflight, they could have been open for other people – such as the five-year-old son of an interpreter who used to work for him, who wanted to leave.
Casey says the Taliban had not approved a further evacuation.
Bristow says the Taliban were becoming increasingly uncooperative.
He says he has checked with the commander on the ground if the operation with the animals displaced people. He says no plane failed to land or take off because of this, and no one else would have made it through if the animals had not gone through.
Alicia Kearns (Con), a former civil servant, says if soldiers had not been escorting animals, they could have been escorting another planeload of people.
Bristow says the trade-off is not that simple.
Q: Why not?
Bristow says the people who were in the system for evacutation had been processed.
He says he cannot say with certainty soliders were moving animals through the gate. He says his understanding is that no one else would have been able to get out.