Boris Johnson refuses to say he will cooperate with Jennifer Arcuri inquiry, as deadline looms

Prime minister ducks question hours after the former model refuses to say whether the pair had an affair

Boris Johnson refuses to say he will cooperate with Jennifer Arcuri inquiry

Boris Johnson has refused to say he will cooperate with an inquiry into whether he granted favours to Jennifer Arcuri, with a deadline just 24 hours away.

The prime minister must respond to a summons from the Greater London Authority (GLA) to reveal his relationship with the entrepreneur, who was allowed to join trade missions, and received large grants.

But, asked if he would agree to appear before its elected members, Mr Johnson replied: “I’ve said everything I’m going to say on that particular subject.”

He dodged the question hours after the former model refused to say whether the pair had an affair, saying it was “no one’s business what private life we had, or didn’t have”.

Ms Arcuri said she and Mr Johnson, whom she listed as “Alex the Great” on her phone bonded over their “mutual love of classic literature” – but insisted there had been no favouritism.

However, the GLA’s London Assembly is determined to delve into evidence her firm received public money from an organisation he was responsible for, as mayor of London until 2016.

It is also alleged Ms Arcuri was also given privileged places on three overseas trade missions led by Mr Johnson, despite failing to meet the eligibility criteria.

Len Duvall, chair of the assembly’s oversight committee, wrote to Mr Johnson on 24 September giving him two weeks to hand over communications between the pair.

If he fails to respond he could be summoned to appear before them. If he then failed to appear, he would face an unlimited fine – or even a jail term of up to three months.

The assembly has the power to compel anyone who has been mayor within the last eight years to give evidence or “produce documents in their possession or under their control”.

A summons notice has been used successfully in the past, including to take evidence from Mr Johnson himself, in 2017, into the garden bridge project fiasco.

No fewer than four separate investigations have been launched into his links to Ms Arcuri. He visited her East London flat frequently and attended vents promoting her fledgling company.

The department for digital, culture, media and sport is investigating whether her business obtained a £100,000 grant for UK-based companies to train people to avoid cyber attacks, despite being based in the US.

And the Independent Office for Police Conduct has been asked to probe whether Mr Johnson, who as mayor was responsible for London’s policing, should be investigated for misconduct in public office.

Pressed on whether he would appear in front of the GLA, the prime minister sought to change the subject to investment in the NHS.

“Look, I’ve said everything I’m going to say on that particular subject,” he replied. “I’m here to talk about the NHS and the investment we’re making in Watford hospital and it’s a £400m programme.”

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