Boris Johnson’s press secretary has refused to say if the prime minister will give evidence to a Greater London Authority inquiry into whether he acted with “honesty and integrity” in his relations with businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri during his time as London Mayor.
Press secretary Allegra Stratton insisted that Mr Johnson does conduct himself in line with the Nolan Principles, which require public office-holders to behave with honesty and integrity.
But asked if he would be willing to provide evidence in person or in writing to the GLA inquiry into whether he had breached the principles, she said the question was “hypothetical”, adding: “Let’s cross all those bridges when they come.”
Mr Johnson’s dealings with the US entrepreneur have come back under the spotlight after she claimed that they had a four-year romantic relationship while he was Mayor.
Then then mayor spoke at a series of technology events organised by Ms Arcuri, who was also invited on three taxpayer-funded trade missions which he led. Her companies also received £126,000 of taxpayer money in event sponsorships and grants.
The GLA probe will examine whether she was given “preferential treatment” and if there was any conflict of interest which should have been declared.
Speaking when news of their friendship first became public, Mr Johnson said: “Everything was done with full propriety. There was no interest to declare.”
Questioned over the affair at a daily Westminster media briefing, Ms Stratton repeatedly referred reporters to an inquiry by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which found last May that there were no grounds for a criminal investigation of the PM’s actions.
However, the report added that if the couple were in an intimate relationship at the time, it would have been “wise” for him to have declared this as a conflict of interest, warning: “Failure to do so could have constituted a breach of the broader Nolan principles.”
Ms Stratton repeatedly told reporters that the IOPC – which became involved in the issue because of the mayor’s responsibility for policing in the capital – had found allegations of impropriety to be “untrue and unfounded”.
However, these words do not appear in the IOPC report, but were instead used by the PM’s spokesman to summarise its findings at the time of its publication.
Ms Stratton added: “Of course the prime minister follows the Nolan principles when conducting himself in public life.”
Asked if the PM would be prepared to give evidence to the GLA’s oversight committee, she replied: “I’m just not going to get into these hypotheticals. An independent body has looked at this in depth and found no case to answer.”