Boris Johnson Won’t Face Probe for Relationship with Arcuri
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson won’t face a criminal investigation into his “close relationship” with an American entrepreneur, Jennifer Arcuri, while he was mayor of London.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct brought its eight-month review of the matter to a conclusion Thursday, but said the relationship, which may have been intimate, affected the decision-making of officials who oversaw the distribution of public funds to private sector businesses.
“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,” Director General Michael Lockwood said in the IOPC statement.
The watchdog’s ruling effectively ends a tabloid scandal that erupted on the eve of the U.K.’s general election campaign last December and cast Johnson’s personal life into the spotlight as he struggled to win a majority in the House of Commons and conclude Brexit. The prime minister, who was mayor of London from 2008 to 2016, has long been dogged by allegations that he has engaged in romantic affairs while married.
Last fall, the relationship between Johnson and Arcuri made headlines after news broke that he’d possibly steered government grants to her tech conference business and helped her get places on trade missions to Malaysia and Israel. Officials also examined whether her cybersecurity business, Hacker House Ltd., had misrepresented itself to be approved for a government-backed training program.
Johnson and Arcuri separately denied any wrongdoing. In October, the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport cleared Arcuri and Hacker House of misleading officials when she applied for the 100,000 pound ($122,000) grant to train cybersecurity workers.
The Unsettled Life of Boris Johnson Pal Jennifer Arcuri
Arcuri has declined to confirm or deny a romantic relationship with Johnson, telling Bloomberg News last October that he had been a “good friend” whom she had tutored on technology matters such as how to use Google Hangout.
The IOPC said Thursday that while it may have been wise for Johnson to declare a conflict of interest his failure to do so didn’t “amount to a potential criminal offense.” Still, the IOPC recommended that the Greater London Authority, which runs the capital, review its policies for selecting private businesses that join trade missions and awarding sponsorship money.
Johnson’s office welcomed the dismissal, saying the allegations were politically motivated.
“Such vexatious claims of impropriety in office were untrue and unfounded,” a spokesman for the Prime Minister said.
Arcuri, who now lives in Southern California, said she was relieved the matter finally appeared to be over.
“Can we just get on with life now and focus with what really matters?” she said in an interview.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.