Boris Johnson has created ‘grave’ situation by failing to provide information on Jennifer Arcuri by deadline, Greater London Assembly says

PM could be summoned to appear before oversight committee to explain his conduct as mayor

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Tuesday 08 October 2019 19:00 BST
Boris Johnson refuses to say he will cooperate with Jennifer Arcuri inquiry

Prime minister Boris Johnson has missed a deadline to hand over information about his relationship with businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, the Greater London Assembly has said.

The chair of the GLA’s oversight committee said that the failure to respond for details of his contacts with Ms Arcuri during his time as mayor of London had made a serious situation “grave”.

Len Duvall said the committee will meet next week to decide on the action to be taken against Mr Johnson, who could be summoned to give evidence. Failure to comply with a summons can be met with a prison sentence of up to three months or an unlimited fine.

Downing Street said that it had delivered its response to the committee’s request by the end of Tuesday. But a spokeswoman for the assembly said the PM had missed the deadline of the end of office hours.

Mr Duvall wrote to the prime minister on 24 September, following allegations in the Sunday Times that Ms Arcuri was given public money and preferential access to mayoral business and missions overseas after forging a friendship with Mr Johnson.

The letter demanded details and a timeline of all professional, social and personal contacts by the then mayor with Ms Arcuri, as well as an explanation of how the alleged relationship was disclosed in dealings with the GLA.

The PM has said that he made no declaration of interest at the time because there was “no interest to declare”. Neither he nor Ms Arcuri have responded to claims that she told friends at the time that they were in an intimate relationship.

Speaking after the 6pm deadline passed, Mr Duvall said: “It is very disappointing that we have not received a response from the prime minister. Missing the deadline of a polite request to fully cooperate is unhelpful and this already serious situation has now become grave. The allegations of potential misuse of taxpayers’ money are no laughing matter. We will be taking this further.

“There are now a range of options available to us. Next week, the Oversight Committee will meet to discuss those options and decide on its next course of action.

“You can be assured that the London Assembly will investigate this matter with absolute commitment.”

A Downing Street source said that Mr Duvall’s letter had been delivered late and that the deadline should therefore be Wednesday, but its response was still submitted shortly after the deadline.

Boris Johnson with Jennifer Arcuri at the World Islamic Economic Forum in 2014
Boris Johnson with Jennifer Arcuri at the World Islamic Economic Forum in 2014 (Innotech Network)

The letter was sent by email to an incorrect address, said the source. But the GLA said that, as well as the address at No 10, it was also sent to Mr Johnson’s constituency office, from which a notice of receipt had been sent.

The GLA’s monitoring officer has already reported Mr Johnson to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for possible investigation over misconduct in public office.

The reference to the IOPC said that Ms Arcuri’s company Innotech received £11,500 from the mayor’s promotional agency London & Partners for two events in 2013 and 2014. It added that Ms Arcuri was able in November 2014 to attend a trade mission to Singapore and Malaysia through another company called Playbox, even though an initial application through Innotech had been declined.

And it said she was allowed to participate in events around trade missions to New York and Israel in 2015, even though she had not qualified for the New York mission and had been rejected for the mission to Israel.

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