Boris Johnson: Watchdog asked to consider ‘reopening inquiry’ after new Jennifer Arcuri claims
Labour has urged a police watchdog to “look again” at its decision to rule out a criminal investigation into Boris Johnson following fresh claims by Jennifer Arcuri about their relationship during his time as Mayor of London.
The US entrepreneur has claimed that Mr Johnson overruled advice of his staff in 2013 to attend an event promoting her tech venture Innotech and make her “happy”.
A diary entry from February 2013 claims he told her: “I just want you to know they came to me and I crushed them. They said: ‘You can’t do this Innotech in April.’ I said: ‘Yes, I can, I’ll be there.’”
According to a seperate entry, the then-mayor asked Ms Arcuri: “How can I be the thrust – the throttle – your mere footstep as you make your career? Tell me: how I can help you?”
Arcuri shared new details from her diary with The Observer following the prime minister’s statements last week about how politicians “should be punished” for any breach of misconduct rules.
Labour’s deputy Leader Angela Rayner says the diary evidence merited “a full investigation” into the processes which led to public funding for Ms Arcuri’s businesses and whether Mr Johnson acted properly.
The former model accompanied Mr Johnson on several trade missions while he was in City Hall, and it emerged in September 2019 that her companies received more than £100,000 in public money.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) last year examined whether Mr Johnson should face a criminal investigation into misconduct, but found no evidence he influenced the payment of thousands of pounds to the US businesswoman’s companies.
A new inquiry by the IOPC would require a referral from Greater London Authority (GLA)’s monitoring officer. Labour has written to the monitoring officer to request that the office refers the new evidence to the IOPC urgently.
In her letter, Ms Rayner states: “I am requesting that you refer this new evidence to the IOPC so they can look again at their decision to rule out a criminal investigation.”
She added: “These new revelations make a full investigation into the processes which led to public funding for Ms Arcuri’s business, and her presence on publicly funded trade visits, more important than ever.”
The chair of the GLA’s oversight committee also said the police watchdog may want to consider whether they need to make fresh inquiries, since Ms Arcuri’s diary was not available at the time investigators looked into their relationship.
The Lib Dem committee chair Caroline Pidgeon – speaking in her role as an assembly member – told The Observer: “This new material from Jennifer Arcuri is significant and the IOPC may wish to consider whether they need to reopen their investigation.”
A government spokesperson said: “As mayor, Boris Johnson followed all the legal requirements in the Greater London Assembly’s code of conduct at the time.”
The allegations come as another opinion poll piled pressure on Mr Johnson, becoming the fourth survey in less than a week to suggest the Conservatives had lost their lead over Labour as the impact of sleaze allegations continues to ripple.
Opinium put Labour (37 per cent) one point ahead of the Tories (36 per cent), with Sir Keir Starmer’s party up by one, and the governing party down by one after a survey conducted between Wednesday and Friday.
It is the first time an Opinium poll has had Labour in the lead since January, while the Prime Minister’s approval rating slipped to a new low in one of the company’s polls, with a net rating of minus 21%.
The drop in support for the Tories since its botched handling of the Owen Paterson affair has been recorded in a number of polls in recent days, with a Savanta ComRes poll putting Labour six points ahead and a YouGov survey finding the rival parties neck-and-neck.