U.K. Embassy Staff in Kabul Reportedly Left Behind Documents That Identify Afghan Allies

Staff from the U.K. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, reportedly left behind documents amid evacuations that identified Afghans who had worked for or applied for employment at the office, the Associated Press reported. The U.K.'s defense chief on Friday vowed to "get to the bottom of" the reports as many Afghan allies of the West fear retaliation from the Taliban, which is gaining increasing power in the country.

While touring the abandoned embassy this week with an escort from the Taliban, Anthony Loyd, a reporter for the Times of London, said that he saw documents with the identifying information littered over the ground. U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said that "clearly it's not good enough" that the papers were left behind unguarded, the AP reported.

Wallace also stated that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson "will be asking some questions" regarding what had occurred regarding the possibility that identifying information was left behind.

"We'll find out and get to the bottom of it," Wallace told London's LBC radio.

In a statement released by the U.K.'s Foreign Office, a spokesperson said that "every effort was made to destroy sensitive material" in the embassy as the U.K. completed its drawdown of the complex, the Guardian reported. The office also said embassy staff was working "at pace as the situation in Kabul deteriorated."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

U.K. Defense Secretary
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace vowed on Friday to "get to the bottom of" reports that the evacuated U.K. Embassy in Kabul left behind identifying information of Afghan allies. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) talks with Wallace (R) during a NATO defense ministers meeting, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 24, 2019. John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

Thousands of citizens who worked with Western forces have been trying to leave Afghanistan, fearing reprisals now that the Taliban control the country.

Loyd said the documents included the name and address of a senior embassy staff member, the contact details for other employees and the resumes and addresses of people applying to be interpreters.

He called the phone numbers he found and learned that some of the staffers had already left Afghanistan but others were still in the country, including three Afghan employees and eight family members stranded outside Kabul's airport as they tried to leave.

The government said they were eventually found and taken to safety. The Times said the fate of at least two of the job applicants remains unknown.

The House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Committee said it would hold an inquiry into how the documents got abandoned during the hurried departure of U.K. diplomats from the embassy as the Taliban advanced on Kabul earlier this month.

The Foreign Office said in a statement that "during the drawdown of our embassy every effort was made to destroy sensitive material."

Afghans Evacuated to U.K.
Staff members of the U.K. Embassy in Kabul reportedly left behind identifying information of Afghan employees or job applicants amid evacuations. Home Secretary Priti Patel (2nd left) talking to Malalai Hussiny (wearing green headscarf) a refugee from Afghanistan who arrived on a evacuation flight at Heathrow Airport on August 26, 2021 in London. Dominic Lipinski/WPA Pool/Getty Images