London Assembly vows to pursue PM Johnson over U.S. businesswoman allegations
LONDON (Reuters) - The London Assembly said on Tuesday it would pursue its investigation into Prime Minister Boris Johnson after he failed to respond to its request to clarify newspaper allegations about his relationship with U.S. businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri.
The Sunday Times has reported that when Johnson was London mayor he failed to declare close personal links to Arcuri, who received thousands of pounds in public business funding and places on official trade trips.
The London Assembly is an elected body that scrutinizes the activities of the mayor and forms part of the Greater London Authority (GLA), the capital’s devolved regional governance body.
It had given Johnson 14 days to respond to its request for information but that deadline expired at 1700 GMT on Tuesday.
“It is very disappointing that we have not received a response from the Prime Minister,” said Len Duvall, Chair of the London Assembly Oversight Committee and a member of the opposition Labour Party.
“Missing the deadline of a polite request to fully cooperate is unhelpful and this already serious situation has now become grave,” he added in a statement. “The allegations of potential misuse of taxpayers’ money are no laughing matter. We will be taking this further.”
The GLA said last month it had referred Johnson to Britain’s police watchdog for potential investigation over allegations of misconduct involving Arcuri.
The GLA said the allegations were that Johnson had a friendship with Arcuri and as a result of that friendship allowed her to participate in trade missions and receive sponsorship.
Johnson has said everything was done with full propriety and that there was no interest to declare. When asked for comment on Monday, he said: “I have really said everything I want to say about that.”
A spokesman for Johnson said on Tuesday the prime minister would respond to the GLA’s letter but did not recognize the deadline set by the assembly.
Arcuri told an interviewer on Monday: “Boris never ever gave me favoritism, never once did I ask him for a favor, never once did he write a letter of recommendation for me.”
Both she and Johnson have declined to answer questions that they had an affair while he was London Mayor between 2008 and 2016.
Reporting by Stephen Addison, editing by James Davey