21 May 2020 | UK NEWS
The criminal investigation into Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s dealings with an American businesswoman will not continue further, it has been announced.
There had been accusations that, while in office as Mayor of London and London’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Johnson had been involved in misconduct in public office.
The Sunday Times had reported that businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri had been involved in trade talks led by Johnson and then received thousands of pounds in sponsorship deals. There were also reports that this occurred in the midst of an intimate relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri.
The Prime Minister was referred in September 2019 to a police watchdog after the report from the Sunday Times was published. The Independent Office for Police Conduct said in its report that there was “some evidence” the pair had an “intimate relationship”. However, no evidence was given that Johnson had influenced payments to Ms Arcuri or her businesses.
Boris’s spokesman said: “We welcome the fact that this politically-motivated complaint has been thrown out. Such vexatious claims of impropriety in office were untrue and unfounded”, adding that it was “not a policing matter” and they considered it “a waste of police time”.
Mr Johnson has denied all wrongdoing.
IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said: “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.”
It was established in the review that “there was a close association between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri and there may have been an intimate relationship”.
The watchdog said that if Mr Johnson had been in an intimate relationship with Ms Arcuri, “it would have been wise for him to have declared this as a conflict of interest”. There was, however, no requirement from the Greater London Assembly’s Code of Conduct that he do so at the time.
The Prime Minister now faces a separate inquiry into conflict of interest allegations during his time as London’s Mayor by the GLA. Len Duvall, leader of the Labour group on the London Assembly and chair of the GLA’s Oversight Committee, stated: “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.”
In comparison to the IOPC’s investigation, the GLA’s investigation will look at whether Mr Johnson “conducted himself in a way that is expected” from a senior public official, as opposed to any legal wrongdoing.
“The oversight committee will take into account the current emergency when looking at the timetable for the investigation,” he added.
The IOPC’s full report into the matter can be read here:Operation-Lansdowne-final-decision-May-2020