Desperate South Shields man laughed at and told Afghan resettlement scheme is a 'scam'

By Dan O'Donoghue

A South Shields man with family trapped in Afghanistan is seeking urgent answers after he overheard government workers laughing and joking about the resettlement scheme.

Staff working on the scheme's helpline were heard saying "we are having to lie to people, we are giving them false hope, the whole thing is an entire scam" after forgetting to hang-up a call.

The government employees were also heard speculating about whether the man's family had been killed by the Taliban.

The man's local MP Emma Lewell-Buck took up the case in the House of Commons today, demanding answers from the prime minister.

Ms Lewell-Buck said: "My constituent spent hours waiting to get through to someone on the Government-issued number for non-British nationals in Afghanistan.

“Distressed and fearful for his family, he was relieved when he eventually spoke to someone, however when they thought my constituent had hung up he overheard them laughing and say to a colleague ‘We are having to lie to people, we are giving them false hope, the whole thing is an entire scam’.

"Is it the Foreign Secretary, the Defence Secretary, the Home Secretary or the Prime Minister who is responsible for this scam?”

There were gasps from MPs across the House as the Labour MP shared the story.

Mr Johnson pledged to look into the case personally, he told MPs: “I think the whole country should be proud of what we have done to welcome people from Afghanistan. Operation Warm Welcome continues and, as I speak to you, we have already received more than 15,000 people from the Kabul airlift, the biggest exercise this country has undertaken.

“I am sorry to hear about the particular case that she raises. Can I ask her to send it directly to me and I will take it up?”

Ms Lewell-Buck told ChronicleLive the government had "questions to answer" over the way it was running its helpline.

She said: "This is utterly shameful. I'm glad the Prime Minister is looking into the case but it simply shouldn't be happening.

"The books stops with the prime minister on this one, it needs sorting."

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