Boris Johnson worried about whether he should declare an interest in his relationship with Jennifer Arcuri but never did so, she has claimed, in an interview that revives questions about the propriety of the prime minister’s dealings with the US entrepreneur when he was London Mayor.
Ms Arcuri made the comments for an episode of ITV’s Exposure documentary series that examines the nature of Mr Johnson’s relationship with Ms Arcuri, amid claims that she received undue advantages from her friendship with Mr Johnson during his second term as London mayor from 2012 to 2016.
The question of whether or not Mr Johnson should have declared an interest in his office’s dealings with Ms Arcuri has been one of the central questions about his conduct towards her since the Sunday Times in September first revealed their close friendship.
Mr Johnson has insisted there was “complete propriety” in his office’s dealings with Ms Arcuri. However, the Greater London Authority has reported him to the Independent Office of Police Conduct for possible criminal investigation for the offence of Misconduct in Public Office over the favours that Ms Arcuri received.
The IOPC’s conclusion about whether there are grounds for a criminal investigation will not be announced until after the general election. The London Assembly has put its own, separate inquiry into the relationship on hold at the IOPC’s request.
Ms Arcuri said in the interview that Mr Johnson used to get “worried” about their relationship but that she was keen for him to acknowledge their friendship publicly.
“That was my fight with Boris,” she said of her conversations with him. “What my fight was always: ‘Validate me, tell them, validate me’.”
He declined because he would have to declare an interest in his dealings with her if he put their relationship on record.
“He didn’t want to have to deal with all the questions around me,” she said. “Because there were always questions from day one.”
In the interview for Exposure, Ms Arcuri declined, as she did in an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme last month, to answer questions on whether the pair had a sexual relationship. However, Ms Arcuri has said the pair had a “close bond” and John Ware, the programme’s presenter, said on the programme that long conversations with Ms Arcuri and others had persuaded him the two had a four-year affair.
Mr Johnson spoke at four conferences organised by Innotech, Ms Arcuri’s conference-organising company, while he was mayor. She also received £11,500 sponsorship for two events from London & Partners, the London mayor’s promotional agency. She was able to attend or participate in parts of three trade missions alongside the mayor, even though she had formally been accepted as a participant in only one.
Ms Arcuri told the interviewer for Exposure that she wished Mr Johnson had declared an interest in his dealings with her because of the consequences she had suffered since the issue became public.
She said she had not known at the time that Mr Johnson should have declared he had an interest in the mayor’s office’s dealings with her.
She went on: “Now if you’re asking if he had declared me, would I have preferred that to avoid all of this humiliation? Absolutely.”
The Conservative party said any claims of impropriety in office were “untrue and unfounded”.
“We consider these are vexatious and politically motivated attacks from the Labour party in City Hall,” it said.
The party pointed out that a probe by the Government Internal Audit Agency into the award of a government grant of £100,000 to Hacker House, another of Ms Arcuri’s companies, had found it to be appropriate.
“Given that City Hall has made an unfounded complaint to the IOPC, we will not be making detailed comments until that process has finished,” the party said.