Jennifer Arcuri turns on Boris Johnson and warns she has been ‘keeping his secrets’

Entrepreneur says she is ‘collateral damage’ from controversy while ‘unaffected’ PM refuses to speak to her

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Sunday 17 November 2019 10:12 GMT
Jennifer Arcuri admits she feels 'betrayed' by Boris Johnson

The businesswoman at the heart of a police watchdog investigation into her relationship with Boris Johnson has accused the prime minister of refusing to speak to her and treating her like “some fleeting one-night stand”.

Jennifer Arcuri, who has repeatedly refused to deny having an affair with Mr Johnson when he was mayor of London, claimed she had tried to speak to the prime minister in recent weeks after details of their relationship emerged.

The connection prompted claims, denied by the prime minister, that she had benefited inappropriately by receiving taxpayer funding for her business and coveted places on overseas trade missions.

In a new programme, Ms Arcuri said she had been “collateral damage” in the row while Mr Johnson had been able to carry on “unaffected”.

Both Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri have refused to be drawn on the nature of their relationship. The ITV Exposure programme claims the liaison lasted for more than four years.

Speaking to presenter John Ware, the entrepreneur again refused to comment on the matter but said friends had urged her to “admit the affair”.

She said: “When the story broke half the people that reached out told me to categorically deny, deny, deny, the other half told me to, admit the, er, affair, fall on the sword, get it over with.”

Addressing Mr Johnson directly, Mr Arcuri said: “I’ve been nothing but loyal, faithful, supportive, and a true confidante of yours. I’ve kept your secrets, and I’ve been your friend.

“And I don’t understand why you’ve blocked me and ignored me as if I was some fleeting one-night stand or some girl that you picked up at a bar, because I wasn’t – and you know that.

“And I’m terribly heartbroken by the way that you have cast me aside like I am some gremlin.”

Ms Arcuri said she had attempted to contact Mr Johnson in recent weeks to ask for advice on how to deal with the media scrutiny, but that he had hung up on her.

She said: “He heard my voice. And I knew it was him. And he hung up. He said, ‘Yes, hello.’ And I simply asked: ‘Why did you block me?’ I wasn’t calling to cause problems, I just wanted a simple ... acknowledgement for what had happened.”

She added: “He should know me well enough to know who I am. Shame on him for not answering the phone.”

Mr Johnson’s dealings with Ms Arcuri are currently being investigated by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which has the power to investigate former London mayors after they leave office.

The probe centres on claims that the relationship was a factor behind Ms Arcuri’s company benefiting from more than £100,000 of public funding. She also reportedly accompanied the then mayor on three overseas trade missions, against the advice of officials.

Ms Arcuri told ITV that she wished that Mr Johnson had formally declared their relationship to avoid accusations of a conflict of interests.

She said: “I didn’t know anything about having to declare me.

“Now if you’re asking if he had declared me, would I have preferred that to avoid all of this humiliation? Absolutely.”

She claimed the then mayor had been ”worried” about doing so because he feared it would prove controversial.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Any claims of impropriety in office are untrue and unfounded. We consider these are vexatious and politically motivated attacks from the Labour Party in City Hall.

“Previous vexatious and unfounded allegations against the prime minister have been thrown out by the courts. An independent review by the Government Internal Audit Agency showed the claims made by the Labour Party about Ms Arcuri‘s company were false.

“Given that City Hall has made an unfounded complaint to the IOPC, we will not be making detailed comments until that process has finished. Full assistance has been offered to the IOPC so the matter can be quickly resolved.”

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