A US businesswoman who received thousands of pounds from a government agency that Boris Johnson controlled when he was mayor of London told friends that she and Johnson were having a sexual affair, according to a British news report this weekend.
The revelation in The Sunday Times of London intensifies the scandal hanging over Johnson as he tries to navigate an impasse in Parliament over his Brexit plans. Several agencies are investigating accusations that he gave favourable treatment to the businesswoman, Jennifer Arcuri, now 34, by helping her secure sponsorship money and taking her on trade missions that she was not qualified for.
On Friday, a monitor at London’s City Hall referred Johnson to a police watchdog for a possible investigation into the case, saying that the accusations, if true, could amount to misconduct in public office.
Both Johnson and Arcuri have denied any wrongdoing.
The newspaper reported that Arcuri had confided to four friends that she was having an affair with Johnson when he was mayor, a relationship that began soon after they met in 2012, while he was campaigning for his second term as mayor. Johnson was 47 and in his second marriage at the time. Arcuri was 27 and finishing a graduate program in business in London.
The newspaper quotes as one of its sources David Enrich, who was an employee of The Wall Street Journal in 2013 when, he said, he interviewed Arcuri for an article about her business partner. He said he had been told by her friends about the alleged relationship between her and Johnson. Enrich is now a business editor at The New York Times.
Johnson gave Arcuri’s first venture a lift by appearing at four networking events for entrepreneurs and policymakers that her company had organised, the newspaper said.
She received 11,500 pounds (around $14,000) in sponsorship money from an organisation that was overseen by Johnson as mayor. And she was given spots on trade missions with the mayor to Malaysia, New York, Singapore and Tel Aviv. In some instances, Johnson’s office intervened to add her to the roster even though she did not meet the criteria for trade delegates, the report said.
Another business later set up by Arcuri, Hacker House, was awarded a central government grant of 100,000 pounds (about $120,000) in February, before Johnson became prime minister.
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