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P
Pa
May 22, 2020

Johnson avoids criminal investigation over Arcuri

Top Story

P
Pa
May 22, 2020

LONDON: Boris Johnson has avoided a criminal investigation over allegations he used his position while London mayor to get favourable treatment for businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri despite the police watchdog finding evidence they may have had an “intimate relationship”.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it “would have been wise” for Johnson to have declared their “close association” as a conflict of interest, and City Hall will now investigate his conduct.

The Prime Minister welcomed the development and criticised the “vexatious claims” that he helped aid and reward the American when she received thousands of pounds of public money and access to foreign trade trips he led as mayor.

But, in reviewing whether the PM should face a misconduct in public office investigation, the IOPC found evidence that officials were influenced in their decision-making because they thought there was a “close relationship” between the pair.

IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said: “We found no evidence to indicate that Mr Johnson influenced the payment of any sponsorship monies to Ms Arcuri, or that he influenced or played an active part in securing her participation in trade missions.

“While there was no evidence that Mr Johnson influenced the payment of sponsorship monies or participation in trade missions, there was evidence to suggest that those officers making decisions about sponsorship monies and attendance on trade missions thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making.”

The IOPC recommended that City Hall considers whether Johnson breached the code of conduct for failing to declare his relationship. “Our review established there was a close association between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri and there may have been an intimate relationship,” the watchdog said.

And, under the Nolan Principles of Public Life, “it would have been wise for Mr Johnson to have declared this as a conflict of interest”, a statement added.

Neither the PM nor Arcuri have ever denied that they were involved in an affair, during his time as mayor between 2008 and 2016. The allegations were referred to the IOPC in September because the watchdog has a remit over the City Hall role, as head of the mayor’s office for policing and crime.

After the IOPC ruling, the London Assembly swiftly said it would resume its own investigation, which it paused when the watchdog launched its review. Len Duvall, the Labour chairman of the Greater London Authority’s oversight committee, said: “Our investigation will consider whether Boris Johnson conducted himself in a way that’s expected from anyone in that position.”

The allegations surfaced in an investigation by the Sunday Times on September 22 last year, on the morning the PM was flying to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

Initially he declined to deny any of the claims during sustained questioning on the RAF Voyager, but later broke his silence to insist “everything was done with complete propriety”.

Arcuri has said she had “every right” to go on the trade missions, describing herself as a “legitimate businesswoman”. A government review in October said a separate £100,000 grant awarded to Hacker House, a company run by Arcuri, in 2018 was “appropriate”. Arcuri’s business received £10,000 in sponsorship from L&P in 2013 and another of £1,500 in June 2014. A further £12,447 from the GLA came in 2013, and she participated in trade missions to New York, Israel, Malaysia and Singapore.