British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will face questions over his failure to reveal personal interests after allegations of his affair with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri revealed that she benefited from public funds and was invited on trade mission trips, including one to Tel Aviv, a report said Wednesday.
A lawyer who chaired an independent standards panel that reprimanded Johnson in 2010 for failing to acknowledge an extramarital affair with Helen Macintyre — another case in which the prime minister did not divulge his personal interests — told the Guardian that Johnson “has a case to answer.”
Arcuri alleged that she and Johnson began their four-year affair in 2012, according to the Sunday Mirror. In 2019, a Sunday Times report described how Arcuri was invited on trade missions despite a failure to meet their criteria.
Johnson was also accused of awarding her companies several grants worth tens of thousands of pounds without declaring a conflict of interest and despite the fact that she was not eligible for one £100,000 ($138,000) grant because her company was not based in the UK.
One of the missions Arcuri attended was in Israel, around the time she had begun funding a cybersecurity company. She told the Sunday Mirror that she had paid for her flight and hotel herself.
“I was hellbent on going. No one does security better than the Israelis. If I didn’t have a big corporation around me, I wanted to at least go under the guise of the trade mission,” she said.
“It just so happened to align with the Boris Johnson mission. I said to London and Partners (the mayor’s promotional agency), ‘I’ll just go when you go and we can make it a whole thing.'”
On the same 2015 mission, Johnson botched his visit to the West Bank after criticizing a campaign to boycott Israeli products. Organizers canceled several of his meetings and the Foreign Office intervened to minimize damage.
In 2010, the City Hall panel, headed by lawyer Claer Lloyd-Jones, recommended that Johnson and his staff receive training in personal interests and the importance of disclosing them. At the time, Johnson had engaged in an extramarital affair with Macintyre who was an unpaid adviser. Later it was revealed that she had given birth to his child in 2008.
Johnson rejects the idea that he had an interest to declare, and told the Sunday Mirror that “everything was done in accordance with the code… everything was done with full propriety.”
Lloyd-Jones told the Guardian: “It sounds from what [Arcuri] is alleging that there was an interest to declare but the evidence hasn’t been presented. If he is going to continue to say there was no interest to declare, someone has got to make a decision about it. I would certainly like to know what he has got to say about it.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct dismissed any criminal investigation and ruled that “no evidence indicating Mr Johnson influenced payment or influenced or played an active part in securing her participation in trade missions,” according to the Sunday Mirror. However, it said that Johnson should have disclosed an interest and that the incident could be seen as a breach of broader principles, according to the Guardian.
Johnson is expected to face questioning by the GLA Oversight Committee when it resumes its investigation later this year.