Jeremy Corbyn urges Boris Johnson to address 'conflict of interest' claims over time as London mayor

Posted On: 
23rd September 2019

Labour has urged Boris Johnson to address claims he failed to declare potential conflicts of interest while he was mayor of London.

The claims centre around Boris Johnson's time as mayor of London.

Jeremy Corbyn said an investigation by The Sunday Times - which centres on American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri - showed there had been an "abuse of power and misuse of public funds".

The paper reported that technology entrepreneur and former model Ms Arcuri was given £126,000 in public money as well as privileged access to three foreign trade missions led by Mr Johnson when he was at City Hall.

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Under Greater London Authority rules, Mr Johnson was at the time required "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".

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett said the Prime Minister need to give a "full account of his actions".

"The public has a right to know how and why these funds were used for the benefit of a close personal friend without on the face of it legitimate reason," he said.

"This cannot be swept under the carpet. It is a matter of the integrity of the man now leading our country, who appears to believe he can get away with anything."

And, hitting out at the media over its response to The Sunday Times' story, Mr Corbyn said: "There was something important in one of the Sunday papers today about an alleged abuse of power and misuses of public funds by Boris Johnson before he became Prime Minister.

"But do you know what? Lots of the media have barely touched it. Incredible, isn't it?

"This is about the man who is the Prime Minister of our country."

He added: "This is how the establishment works.

"They close ranks. They put privilege first. Things have to change."

Labour's current Mayor of London Sadiq Khan meanwhile confirmed on Monday night that a probe into the claims was now underway.

"Sadiq has asked City Hall officials to look into what processes were followed during that time to ensure that any lessons are learned for the future," a spokesperson said.

Mr Johnson declined to comment on the report several times when pressed by reporters on a trip to the United Nations.

He said: "I’m here to talk about what we’re doing in the UN, and this country’s commitment to tackling climate change, stopping loss of biodiversity and our role in serving as a bridge between our European friends and the Americans when it comes to the crisis in the Gulf."

Ms Arcuri was quoted by The Sunday Times as saying: "Any grants received by my companies and any trade mission I joined were purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman."

A statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: "Funding for this scheme was awarded through open and fair competition.

"We regularly monitor grant initiatives and treat any allegations of impropriety with the utmost seriousness."