Woody Johnson: US ambassador to UK denies making racist and sexist remarks

Ambassador also accused of using position to further Trump’s business interests in Britain

Matt Mathers
Thursday 23 July 2020 14:11 BST
Woody Johnson: Boris Johnson and Donald Trump have a 'lot in common'

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Woody Johnson, US ambassador to the UK, has denied accusations that he made racist and sexist comments to White House staff and used his position to further Donald Trump’s business interests in Britain.

Mr Johnson, the owner of the NFL’s New York Jets team, was reportedly investigated by the US Senate after making “generalisations” about black men and “cringe-worthy” comments about women.

Johnson was named ambassador to the UK after Mr Trump assumed officer in 2017.

The billionaire businessman was referred to the Senate watchdog after asking aides if there would be a “whole bunch of black people” in the audience at Black History Month event in 2018, according to a report by CNN.

He also reportedly held official events at the men only White’s club in London, excluding female embassy staff. Johnson also allegedly pushed back on holding an event on gender-based violence because he is “not a woman”.

According to CNN and The New York Times, Johnson, at the request of Trump, lobbied then UK Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, to hold the British Open golf tournament at Turnberry.

Trump is the owner of Turnberry, having bought the course in 2014 for a reported $60m (£47m).

Mr Johnson hit back at the allegations in a tweet on Wednesday evening. “I have followed the ethical rules and requirements of my office at all times,” he wrote.

“These false claims of insensitive remarks about race and gender are totally inconsistent with my longstanding record and values.”

When asked about the allegations at a White House press briefing, Mr Trump said he had not spoken to Mr Johnson about the remarks.

A state department spokesperson said: “Ambassador Johnson is a valued member of the team who has led Mission UK honourably and professionally.

“We stand by Ambassador Johnson and look forward to him continuing to ensure our special relationship with the UK is strong.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “The previous Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell had an introductory meeting with the US Ambassador in early 2018.

“No request was made regarding the British Open or any other sporting event.”

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