28, September 2019
Embattled Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been hit by fresh controversy, this time, focused on his tenure as London mayor.
The allegations, related to favouritism and the granting of privileges, which can potentially amount to the criminal offence of misconduct in public office, were first raised by the Sunday Times on September 22.
According to the Sunday Times, London-based American model and businesswoman, Jennifer Arcuri, received favourable treatment on account of her strong friendship with Johnson.
The favours and benefits were bestowed on Arcuri, who is widely described as a “model-turned-technology entrepreneur”, during the time Johnson served as London mayor.
Most damningly, the Sunday Times reveals that Arcuri was granted £126,000 in public funds and was in addition given privileged access to three official overseas trade missions led by Johnson.
Jonson reportedly regularly visited Arcuri’s flat in the Shoreditch district, located in the East End of London.
Whilst not denying his friendship with the American model, Johnson still maintains that “everything was done in the proper way”.
Despite Johnson’s claims of propriety, the allegations are serious enough for the Greater London Authority’s monitoring officer (whose job is to monitor the conduct of the mayor) to refer the PM to the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Meanwhile, the story keeps on developing as other media organisations try to expand the investigation.
In an exclusive report, the Guardian reported yesterday that Arcuri won a highly sought after entrepreneur visa to stay in the UK after securing Johnson’s endorsement for her firm, ‘Innotech’.
For its part, the BBC has spoken to “several” people who went on the same overseas “trade missions” as Arcuri.
The BBC’s Home Affairs correspondent, Daniel Sandford, says that people who went on those trade missions report that Arcuri “seemed a bit out of place” as her companies were “much less substantial” than the companies which had gained entry more legitimately.