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British PM Johnson referred to police watchdog over businesswoman links

September 28, 2019 at 4:44pm
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The government of London said it had referred Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Britain’s police watchdog for potential investigation over allegations of misconduct involving a U.S. businesswoman while he was mayor of London.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) said on Friday it had referred a “conduct matter” concerning Johnson to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which investigates complaints connected to the police.

The referral follows allegations, first reported by The Sunday Times, that when Johnson was mayor, he failed to declare close personal links to tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri who received thousands of pounds in public business funding and places on official trade trips.

Asked about the referral, Johnson’s spokesman told Reuters: “The prime minister as mayor of London did a huge amount of work when selling our capital city around the world, beating the drum for London and the UK.

“Everything was done with propriety and in the normal way,” he added.

Arcuri did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The matter has been referred to the police watchdog because Johnson was head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, a role equivalent to a police commissioner, during his 2008-2016 term as mayor.

Under the referral, the authority will try to determine whether there are grounds for a full investigation that could lead to criminal charges of misconduct in public office.

The GLA said in a statement: “The Monitoring Officer of the GLA has today recorded a ‘conduct matter’ against Boris Johnson and referred him to the Independent Office for Police Conduct so it can assess whether or not it is necessary to investigate the former Mayor of London for the criminal offence of misconduct in public office.”

It said the action had been taken in accordance with the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.

In a letter to Johnson, the GLA said: “Subject to any explanation provided by you, these matters give rise to a suggestion that there has been a failure to safeguard the public purse and if so that amounts to a significant breach of public trust.

“These are the ingredients of the offence of misconduct in a public office,” said the letter from the office of the authority’s monitoring officer, which was made public.

The letter said Innotech, Arcuri’s then company, received 11,500 pounds ($14,000) from London & Partners, the mayor’s promotional agency, for two events in 2013 and 2014. She was able to attend a trade mission to Singapore and Malaysia in 2014 through Playbox, one of her companies, even though an initial application through Innotech had been declined.

The letter said the Monitoring Officer was also aware “from media reports and elsewhere” that Arcuri also had been allowed to participate in events around two other trade missions — to New York and Israel in 2015 — although she had not qualified for the New York mission and had been rejected for the mission to Israel.

Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the European Union by Oct. 31. British opposition parties are discussing tabling a vote of no-confidence in Johnson as early as next week over his handling of Brexit, the Telegraph newspaper reported on Friday.

(Reuters)