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AFP
May 22, 2020

US businesswoman ties: Boris Johnson avoids police probe

World

AFP
May 22, 2020

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not face a criminal investigation over claims that he channelled public funds towards a US businesswoman with whom he was suspected of having an affair, the police complaints body said on Thursday.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said police would not be asked to investigate claims Johnson used his position while mayor of London to "benefit and reward" Jennifer Arcuri, but it did find "there may have been an intimate relationship" between the two.

There was also evidence to suggest that those responsible for handing out grants "thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making".

It concluded that Johnson should have declared a conflict of interest, but that not doing so did not amount to a potential criminal offence and was now a matter for the Greater London Authority (GLA).

Johnson’s Downing Street office said it welcomed "that this politically motivated complaint has been thrown out".

"This was not a policing matter, and we consider this was a waste of police time," it added.

Arcuri was given more than £125,000 ($153,000, 139,000 euros) in public money and invited on trade missions led by Johnson during his time as mayor between 2008 and 2016, sparking multiple investigations.

British media reported the two were having an affair. Arcuri did not deny the claims, saying it was "really categorically no one’s business what private life we had, or didn’t have".

But any grants were "purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman", she said at the time.

The IOPC said it found "no evidence indicating 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".

Johnson’s role as mayor meant he was also head of the Office for Policing and Crime and open to investigation of potential misconduct by the professional complaints body.

The allegations were referred to the IOPC by the GLA in September 2019, two months after he became prime minister.

The IOPC reviewed nearly 900 documents, including eight years of emails, it said.

"We also interviewed and took statements from a number of witnesses in the UK and abroad during the process."