Boris Johnson will not face criminal probe over links to Jennifer Arcuri

21 May 2020, 13:00

Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri pictured together in 2013
Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri pictured together in 2013. Picture: nnotech Network/YouTube

By Asher McShane

Boris Johnson will not face a criminal investigation over links to American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has announced.

The IOPC watchdog has spent months carrying out a 'scoping exercise' into whether the Prime Minister would have any case to answer over his friendship with Ms Arcuri while he was mayor of London.

The official announcement from the IOPC states 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."

But it said they established "there was a close association between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri and there may have been an intimate relationship."

Ms Arcuri was awarded thousands of pounds in public money including £11,500 by the Mayor’s promotional agency London & Partners.

She was also handed a £100,000 grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. A DCMS review last October found the grant was "appropriate."

IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said: “The IOPC completed a thorough, independent and impartial assessment to determine if there were reasonable grounds to suspect the criminal offence of misconduct in public office had occurred.

“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 ruling means an investigation by the London Assembly is likely to resume.

Len Duvall, the Greater London Authority's oversight committee chair, said: "The IOPC was looking specifically at whether he committed a criminal offence. That's not our remit and their decision doesn't have any real bearing on our investigation, which will focus on his conduct as Mayor of London.

"Everyone who holds public office, whether you're the mayor of London, or indeed the prime minister, is expected to adhere to the principles of public life - including integrity, selflessness, openness and honesty, to name a few.

"Our investigation will consider whether Boris Johnson conducted himself in a way that's expected from anyone in that position. It's important we get those answers, because Londoners deserve to have their politicians held accountable.

"The oversight committee will take into account the current emergency when looking at the timetable for the investigation."

Mr Johnson was referred to the IOPC because he was head of the mayor’s office for policing and crime when Ms Arcuri received public money and positions on trade trips led by Mr Johnson during his time as mayor.

She was given a place on trade missions to New York and Tel Aviv alongside Mr Johnson, despite initially being turned down for failing to meet the required criteria.

The IOPC had been expected to make its decision before the general election in December but it was delayed.

The IOPC has previously strongly denied suggestions that today’s decision was delayed to avoid embarrassment for Mr Johnson in the run-up to the December election.

Mr Johnson has said he acted with “full propriety” and said there was no interest to declare.

Ms Arcuri said she received no favours from Mr Johnson but did say that she believed he should have declared their friendship.

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