Boris Johnson asked for Jennifer Arcuri to be included on Israel trade trip while he was mayor, says former adviser

The ex-City Hall aide says organisers were 'shocked' to see US businesswoman on Tel Aviv visit

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 03 October 2019 18:36
Comments
Boris Johnson dodges questions over alleged affair with Jennifer Arcuri

A former adviser to Boris Johnson has claimed that the prime minister asked for his friend Jennifer Arcuri to be included in a trade trip to Israel while he was mayor of London, it has been reported.

The ex-City Hall worker told Sky News that organisers of the visit were “shocked” to see the US businesswoman join them on the visit to Tel Aviv.

Speaking under condition of anonymity, the official said they understood that the mayor had personally asked for her to be involved, even though the visit was focused on a different sector of industry.

Mr Johnson is facing a possible investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into whether he breached laws on misconduct in public office over his links to Ms Arcuri.

He insists that there was no impropriety in his relationship with the businesswoman, who has been awarded a total of £126,000 in public money in a series of grants as well as allegedly being granted preferential access to three mayoral trade missions.

Pressed earlier this week over whether he declared an interest when Ms Arcuri was invited on trips, he said there was “no interest to declare”.

Recalling the Israel trip, the former mayoral aide told Sky: “I got to Tel Aviv and was sitting in the hotel bar with delegates when I saw Jennifer Arcuri walk in.

“I turned to the person organising the trip and asked: ‘What’s she doing here?’ Apparently the mayor asked for her to be involved.

“There was never a mention of her joining. I thought it was very unusual for her to be on this trip because it was so focused on educational technology and that wasn’t her business.”

The adviser said there was a “cachet” for small businesses included in a mayoral delegation, and they went through a careful selection process before being invited.

“It’s an advantage for a small company,” said the source. “To be afforded that opportunity three times is very unusual.”

Asked whether Mr Johnson personally intervened to ensure Ms Arcuri was invited on the trip, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “You’ve heard the prime minister about this in numerous questions over the last week. Everything was appropriate and above board.”

Boris Johnson has refused to answer reporters’ questions about whether he had an intimate relationship with Ms Arcuri

Ms Acuri has insisted that she was not given special treatment in relation to foreign trade trips.

She told the Daily Mail: “I had every right to be on those trips as a legitimate businesswoman and stand by everything that happened because these allegations are completely false.”

The PM is facing several reviews of his conduct and London Assembly members on the powerful oversight committee have given him until Monday to provide further details about his contact with Ms Arcuri.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in