Apart from Brexit’s challenges, Boris Johnson is also under fire for his friendship with Jennifer Arcuri, a US businesswoman.
Although the PM is under investigation for alleged conflicts of interest, he denies any wrongdoing. He insists that he acted with “full propriety”.
What is the real story of this row?
What is Boris Johnson supposed to have done?
This is about the relationship between Jennifer Arcuri, the prime minister, and how she was treated during his tenure as mayor of London.
According to Sunday Times, who first reported the story in 2014, the technology entrepreneur was allowed by the government to accompany him on trade missions overseas in 2015 and 2014.
According to the newspaper, one of her companies had received sponsorship money from a mayor’s organization when Johnson was mayor, and a PS15,000 grant from the British government for foreign entrepreneurs.
Johnson is accused of failing to declare a personal interest, despite their friendship.
He has however denied any wrongdoing. According to the prime minister, there was no interest in declaring anything and everything was done “entirely according to the proper procedure”.
Ms. Arcuri refused to confirm whether she was involved in an intimate relationship or not with Mr Johnson. She claimed that Johnson was only a “really good friend” who “categorically” had nothing to do with her other accomplishments.
She stated that they never had discussed sponsorships or grants with Mr Johnson.
In January, Hacker House, Ms Arcuri’s business, received a PS100,000 grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. The funding was approved by after a subsequent government review . Nicky Morgan, Culture Secretary, stated that the grant was awarded “without any impropriety” on 31 October.
Who is investigating the matter?
Sadiq Khan, the current London Mayor launched an investigation into the allegations.
The Greater London Authority (GLA), which includes the mayor of London and the 25-member London Assembly, is currently investigating the matter.
The oversight committee of the Assembly asked Mr Johnson to give an explanation about his relationship with Ms Arcuri and a timeline detailing all contact.
Downing Street responded to the letter, which was marked “confidential” and not meant for public publication. The committee replied on 9 October that the letter did not answer their questions.
Len Duvall (Labour chairman of the committee) says that it is now deciding what to next do.
The oversight committee has the power to summon Mr Johnson in person should it want to. It previously quizzed him over a failed £53m project to build a “Garden Bridge”.
In addition, the GLA’s monitoring officer made a referral to the police watchdog on 27 September.
Its letter asks the Independent Office for Police Conduct to assess whether Mr Johnson has committed a criminal offence of misconduct in public office.
The GLA’s Code of Conduct says public-office holders, including the mayor, should not act in any way to gain benefits for families or friends, and should declare private interests to resolve any conflicts.
- Johnson ‘fails to answer Arcuri questions’
- PM’s links to Arcuri referred to police watchdog
- Boris Johnson denies wrongdoing over Arcuri link
- Grant awarded to Arcuri company ‘appropriate’
Who is Jennifer Arcuri?
Jennifer Arcuri describes herself on Twitter as an entrepreneur, cyber-security expert and producer.
She began her career as a DJ on Radio Disney, before moving into film – where she wrote, produced and directed a short sold at Cannes Film Festival.
Ms Arcuri then created a streaming platform for independent film-makers.
But it was her founding of The Innotech Network in London that saw her path cross with Boris Johnson. The network hosts events to discuss technology policy and Mr Johnson was the keynote speaker at the first of those, in 2012.
Since then, Ms Arcuri has also another company, Hacker House, which uses ethical hackers to find technology solutions for businesses.