BORIS Johnson last night refused to deny an extramarital affair with a former model he may have helped win public cash.
The PM repeatedly declined to discuss allegations of a close friendship with former American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri.
A Sunday Times investigation yesterday accused his office of helping the tech entrepreneur win grants and sponsorships – while he failed to declare a conflict of interest.
The cash was footed by the taxpayer while Boris was London’s Mayor, after the pair were alleged to have met in 2012.
The allegations were put to Mr Johnson four times while on a flight to New York City last night to attend a UN summit.
The PM would only say: “I’m here to talk about what we’re doing in the UN and this country’s commitment to tackling climate change, and our role in serving as a bridge when it comes to our American and European friends over the crisis in the Gulf”.
Pressed again, Boris said: “I’m here as I say to talk about what we’re going to do at the UN”.
He also refused to discuss whether suggestions that he had helped misuse public funds should be settled with a public inquiry.
Given a final chance to deny any of the allegations, he added: “If you forgive me, I am going to talk about exclusively what we’re going to be doing at the UN”.
But Boris later appeared to break his own rule in the exchange with reporters.
The PM went on to talk about his time as London Mayor to say how he gets “an ever more enthusiastic response” on hospital visits than then.
Arcuri reportedly received £10,000 in business cash from an organisation Johnson was responsible for as London Mayor in 2013.
The ex-model, who was in her 20s at the time, was also allegedly given special treatment to attend jet-set trade missions led by the future PM.
She was reportedly given privileged access to three foreign trips in one year – despite her tech firm not meeting the eligibility criteria.
Initial decisions to turn her down for two of the trips were overturned after intervention by Johnson and his close team, it is claimed.
There is no suggestion that Arcuri was involved in any wrongdoing.
But she has refused to comment on her relationship with Johnson, who now lives with 31-year-old girlfriend Carrie Symonds.
‘REGULARLY VISITED FLAT’
A leaked email seen by the Sunday Times allegedly shows Arcuri was given access to a New York trade mission after discussing it with the then-Mayor.
Sources reportedly confirmed Johnson was a frequent visitor to her posh top-floor flat in Shoreditch, East London.
The 34-year-old entrepreneur is also said to have described Johnson as “one of her best friends”.
The revelations have sparked allegations Johnson, 55, may have breached strict mayoral rules demanding conflicts of interest be declared.
Johnson was bound by the Greater London Authority’s code of conduct to “declare any private interests” relating to his “public duties”.
As Mayor, he was also required to take steps to “resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest”.
There is also a clause barring any Mayor of London from giving favours to friends.
Arcuri’s two companies have together lost more than £1million, according to the latest accounts seen by the Sunday Times.
Despite this, she was also allegedly given a £15,000 Government grant in 2014 designed to encourage foreign entrepreneurs in Britain.
Arcuri moved back to the US in 2018 – but was this year awarded a further £100,000 grant for UK-based businesses.
The registered address for her company is reported to be a rented house in Cheshire no longer connected to Arcuri – who lives in California.
An investigation has now been launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport following the paper’s findings.
Johnson, who has been pictured with Arcuri several times, spoke at least four times at her Innotech networking summits.
She has also been seen taking part in his mayoral campaign and defended him from attacks on social media.
Chandan Daryanani, the owner of the building where Arcuri lived, said she told him that Johnson was a frequent visitor.
He said: “He definitely used to come along and they were very close friends… she mentioned once he was one of her best friends”.
MOST READ IN POLITICS
Arcuri did not comment on her personal relationship with Johnson, but defended her business conduct.
She said in a statement: “Any grants received by my companies and any trade mission I joined were purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman.
Downing Street declined to comment.
Arcuri, 34, is said to have described Boris Johnson as ‘one of her best friends’[/caption]
Arcuri with then-London Mayor Boris Johnson. She declined to comment on her personal relationship with the Prime Minister[/caption]
Johnson is dating 31-year-old Carrie Symonds[/caption]
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