Boris Johnson will not face criminal investigation over relationship with Jennifer Arcuri

Martin Evans
Boris Johnson was investigated over his friendship with American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not face a criminal investigation by the police watchdog over allegations he used his position while London mayor to benefit and reward US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, a police watchdog has concluded.

In a statement the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said its review had found "no evidence indicating Mr Johnson influenced the payment of any sponsorship monies to Ms Arcuri or that he influenced or played an active part in securing her participation in trade mission". 

Mr Johnson was referred to the The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in September last year amid complaints over his relationship with Ms Arcuri.

The IOPC’s involvement was triggered because as the Mayor of London he had responsibility for policing in the capital and was the equivalent of a police and crime commissioner.

At the time the Greater London Authority (GLA) - who will resume its investigation - said its monitoring officer had recorded a "conduct matter" against Mr Johnson over allegations Ms Arcuri had received sponsorship money and was allowed to attend trade missions because of their friendship.

The IOPC then launched a probe to consider whether there were grounds to investigate the Prime Minister for the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.

But announcing the result of the investigation, Michael Lockwood, director general of the IOPC, said: “The IOPC completed a thorough, independent and impartial assessment to determine if there were reasonable grounds to suspect the criminal offence of misconduct in public office had occurred. 

“We found no evidence to indicate that Mr Johnson influenced the payment of any sponsorship monies to Ms Arcuri or that he influenced or played an active part in securing her participation in trade missions. 

“While there was no evidence that Mr Johnson influenced the payment of sponsorship monies or participation in trade missions, there was evidence to suggest that those officers making decisions about sponsorship monies and attendance on trade missions thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making. “ 

During his time as Mayor, Ms Arcuri joined him on three official trade missions and her companies received £126,000 in public money.

Mr Johnson’s office also intervened to give her a place on trade missions to New York and Tel Aviv after she was initially turned down because she failed to meet the criteria

At the time, Ms Arcuri said: “I had every right to be on those trips as a legitimate businesswoman and stand by everything that happened because these allegations are completely false.”

Following the announcement of the IOPC decision, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said: "We welcome the fact that this politically motivated complaint has been thrown out.’

"Such vexatious claims of impropriety in office were untrue and unfounded. An independent review by the Government Internal Audit Agency similarly showed the claims made by the Labour Party were false.

"This was not a policing matter, and we consider this was a waste of police time."

The IOPC has been accused of dragging its heels over the decision which had been expected before the General Election.

But the watchdog has strenuously denied delaying the announcement and earlier this month insisted it was still carrying out a "scoping exercise".

The IOPC decision could now be subject to a judicial review.

Len Duvall, the Greater London Authority's oversight committee chair, said: "The IOPC was looking specifically at whether he committed a criminal offence. That's not our remit and their decision doesn't have any real bearing on our investigation, which will focus on his conduct as Mayor of London.

"Everyone who holds public office, whether you're the mayor of London, or indeed the prime minister, is expected to adhere to the principles of public life - including integrity, selflessness, openness and honesty, to name a few.

"Our investigation will consider whether Boris Johnson conducted himself in a way that's expected from anyone in that position. It's important we get those answers, because Londoners deserve to have their politicians held accountable.

"The oversight committee will take into account the current emergency when looking at the timetable for the investigation."