BORIS JOHNSON misled the public over his ‘friendship’ with businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, it was claimed after she gave her first TV interview about their shared past yesterday.
The tech entrepreneur said the PM came to her London flat ‘five to ten times’ while mayor of the capital — and had admired the dancing pole installed in her living room.
She refused to reveal if they had an affair when asked about it six times on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, saying she feared any answer she gave would be ‘weaponised’ by his opponents.
But Labour’s John McDonnell said the interview had ‘thrown up even more questions’ about claims she received£26,000 in public funds when he was mayor. ‘Regardless of the exact nature of his relationship with Arcuri, it is clear she and Boris Johnson were close, and that he misled the public when he said there was “no interest to declare”,’ said the shadow chancellor.
Mr Johnson, 55, who denies breaking any rules of conduct, could face a police investigation after concerns were raised about the grant cash given to companies run by Ms Arcuri, 34.
She was also allowed to accompany him on three overseas trade trips as mayor — being turned down for two of the visits before his team intervened.
The Greater London Authority’s code of conduct forbids holders of public office from acting in ‘any way to gain financial benefits for themselves, their family or their friends’.
But former model Ms Arcuri denied any wrongdoing, insisting: ‘Boris never, ever gave me favouritism.
‘Never once did I ask him for a favour, never once did he write a letter of recommendation for me. He didn’t know about me asking to go on trips, he only knew me as an extremely passionate entrepreneur of the London tech scene.’
The American said she initially bonded with Mr Johnson over a shared love of Shakespeare and classic literature, and had to meet in private because so many people wanted selfies with him.
She admitted using the codename Alexander the Great when discussing him with friends — and revealed he was listed as the ancient king in her phone.
She also confided that she had invited him to ‘have a go’ on the pole, which she used for fitness and found to be a good ‘conversation starter’.
She said she had joked to him that she could ‘show him a few things’. But asked if he did ‘have a go’, she said: ‘I’m never going to tell you that. It was a laugh and that’s it, can you imagine Boris Johnson on a pole? I mean, come on.’ Ms Arcuri added: ‘It’s really categorically no one’s business what private life we had — or didn’t have.’
She dismissed media reports about herself and the relationship, including her alleged boast that she could make any man fall for her in ten minutes.
‘Has it been ten minutes yet, are you falling in love with me?’ she quipped to presenter Piers Morgan as she spoke to him and Susanna Reid from LA.
Morgan expressed surprise when she struggled to recall how many times Mr Johnson came to see her, saying: ‘If the mayor of London comes to your home you’re going to remember roughly how many times. You’re a smart lady, you know the answer.’
Ms Arcuri’s company Hacker House was awarded a £100,000 cyber-skills grant in January out of a fund intended to help UK firms. About half the money, yet to be handed over, has been frozen after it emerged she had relocated to California. She told GMB none of her companies had ever made any profit.
Ms Arcuri’s representatives were reportedly offering the rights for an exclusive interview for about £200,000 last week. But ITV paid her only £10,000 to £20,000, according to Buzzfeed.
Mr Johnson declined to comment about her Q&A on GMB.