September 21, 2021

Boris Johnson ‘failed to declare conflict of interest with US model friend’

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Boris Johnson faced accusations last night that he had failed to declare potential conflicts of interest over a close friendship with an American model-turned-businesswoman when he was London Mayor.

Reports said that technology entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri, 34 – who is said to have described Mr Johnson as ‘one of her best friends’ – was given thousands of pounds in public money and privileged access to three overseas trade missions.

The Sunday Times claimed that Ms Arcuri’s fledgling business received £10,000 in sponsorship cash in 2013 from an organisation the then-mayor was responsible for. 

He also reportedly attended numerous events she arranged that promoted a company of hers. Ms Arcuri was in her late twenties at the time.

According to sources, Mr Johnson, 55, would regularly visit her top-floor flat in Shoreditch, East London.

Boris Johnson’s close friendship with model-turned-technology entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri is under close scrutiny (pictured: Ms Arcuri wearing a dirndl at a tech summit)

The pair, who have often been photographed together, were regularly seen together at her flat in Shoreditch, sources say

Ms Arcuri pouring Mr Johnson a cup of tea at an Innotech event in London

Who is Jennifer Arcuri?

Before moving to the UK in 2011, Jennifer Arcuri, 34, had an entrepreneurial background and also produced a short film, ‘La Valise.’

Ms Arcuri, who now lives in California, founded Innotech in 2012. 

According to her website, it intended to ‘bridge the gap between legislation and innovative technology.’

This led to her next venture, Hacker House, which employs ‘renowned ethical hackers’ to teach cyber attack simulations to students. 

Social media photos show her spending time with the Tory top brass, including Michael Gove and Justine Greening. 

In 2016, she spoke at a Tedx event in Liverpool outlining ‘why Ethical Hacking is so important in a 21st century economy.’

She described how we could harness the ‘disgruntled youth’ and steer them away from becoming cyber criminals and into an army using their skills for good.

Ms Arcuri has since become a certified ethical hacker herself.

According to the Sunday Times, Ms Arcuri was also given preferential treatment when it came to taking part in Johnson-led overseas trade missions – even though her business had reportedly not met the criteria for three trips she attended in one year.

Initial decisions to reject her for two of those missions were overturned after ‘intervention’ by Johnson and his mayoral office team, The Sunday Times claimed.

It quoted an internal email revealing how she took part in a New York trade mission after she discussed the issue with the then London mayor who was happy for her to participate.

As mayor, Mr Johnson was required to follow the Greater London Authority’s code of conduct ‘to declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve any conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest’.

Ms Arcuri launched Innotech in London seven years ago and was lauded as one of the industry’s innovators, while she ‘bridged the gap between legislation and innovative technology,’ her website says.

The onetime model received a £15,000 Government grant in 2014 under the ‘Sirius Programme’ designed to encourage overseas entrepreneurs to build businesses in the UK. 

The former model’s new business received £10,000 in sponsorship from an organisation which Johnson was responsible for as mayor

Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri laugh together during the ‘Innotech Official Sizzle 2013’ – according to the owner of the building where Ms Arcuri lived, she described Mr Johnson as one of her ‘best friends’

Boris Johnson’s relationship with the US model and businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri has come under scrutiny

Ms Arcuri, 34, is now living in San Francisco, according to her social media profile (Ms Arcuri poses alongside a friend in this social media post)

But in June last year, Ms Arcuri is understood to have relocated back to the US and is now living in San Francisco, according to her Twitter profile.

However, it was reported that one of her latest companies still received a grant of £100,000 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) intended for English-based businesses earlier this year.

That grant is now being investigated by the DCMS over claims the registered company address used to apply for it is a rented house in Cheshire no longer connected to her, The Sunday Times claimed.

Ms Arcuri takes a selfie with Michael Gove – Mr Gove is today one of Mr Johnson’s key cabinet allies

Arcuri was given £126,000 in public money as well as privileged access to three overseas trade missions which Johnson led

Mr Johnson was also said to have been instrumental in assisting Ms Arcuri’s business to get off the ground by being guest speaker four times at her Innotech networking summits for policymakers and London technology firms.

The two were photographed together, with Ms Arcuri taking to social media to praise and defend him.

Ms Arcuri backed Boris in tweets, saying that he was an ‘amazing leader’ and giving her support to his 2012 mayoral election battle against Ken Livingstone.

She took part in Conservative campaigning and her social media photos show her smiling alongside Michael Gove and Justine Greening. 

The owner of the building where her flat was located, Chandan Daryanani, told the newspaper that Mr Johnson had been a frequent visitor.

Ms Arcuri was well known among the Tory top brass (pictured: Ms Arcuri poses with a bottle of red wine alongside former cabinet minister Justine Greening)

According to sources, Mr Johnson – now 55 – was a regular visitor to her top-floor flat in Shoreditch, East London (pictured: the former model in a social media selfie)

Ms Arcuri told The Sunday Times:  ‘Any grants received by my companies and any trade mission I joined were purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman’

Mr Daryanani told The Sunday Times: ‘He definitely used to come along and they were very close friends… she mentioned once he was one of her best friends.’

According to The Sunday Times, Ms Arcuri did not address questions about the friendship in a statement issued to the newspaper.

But she told The Sunday Times: ‘Any grants received by my companies and any trade mission I joined were purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman.’

Last night, Tory insiders said Ms Arcuri was well known in party circles during Mr Johnson’s second term as mayor between 2012 and 2016.

Before moving to the UK in 2011, Ms Arcuri had an entrepreneurial background and also produced a short film, ‘La Valise’ 

Mr Arcuri speaking at a tech event in London – Mr Johnson was said to have been instrumental in assisting Ms Arcuri’s business to get off the ground by being guest speaker four times at her Innotech networking summits for policymakers and London technology firms

In June last year, Ms Arcuri (left and right) is understood to have relocated back to the US. She did not address questions about the friendship to Mr Johnson in a statement issued to the Sunday Times

Ms Arcuri spoke at a Tedx event in Liverpool in 2016 outlining ‘why Ethical Hacking is so important in a 21st century economy’

However, there were also suggestions that the close relationship between the mayor and one of the leading lights of the London tech scene had raised eyebrows among colleagues.

Downing Street declined to comment. Mr Johnson served as London mayor from May 2008 until May 2016.

Mr Johnson married Marina Wheeler in 1993 and the pair separated last year.

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