Boris Johnson admits he did play £160,000 tennis match with ex-Russian minister's wife

Posted On: 
18th March 2018

Boris Johnson has admitted he did take part in a tennis match with the wife of a former Russian minister after she donated £160,000 to the Conservative party.

Boris Johnson appearing on the Andrew Marr Show this morning
BBC One/Andrew Marr Show

Lyubov Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir served as a finance minister under President Putin until 2004, made the donation in 2014 to play a game with Mr Johnson and David Cameron.

At the time Mr Cameron insisted Ms Chernukhin "certainly" was not a "Putin crony" and had been resident in the UK for many years.

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Labour have attacked the Conservatives for taking donations from wealthy Russians, with Jeremy Corbyn pointing out that the Tories have accepted £800,000 from "oligarchs and their associates".

This morning the Foreign Secretary was asked if the tennis match had actually taken place, replying: "It did". 

He defended his party for taking the money, saying it was wrong to create a "miasma of suspicion" around all Russians who have made the UK their home.

"Unless and until evidence is produced against individual Russians I do not think the entire nation should be calumnified," he told the Andrew Marr programme. 

"There are many Russians who have come to this country, made their lives here and contributed magnificently to our culture and our society. They feel threatened... 

"It is very important that we do not allow a miasma of suspicion about all Russians in London and, indeed, all rich Russian in London to be created."

Mr Johnson also hit back at Labour for focusing on party funding after the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal. 

"It is quite extraordinary at a time when you have two people lying gravely ill in hospital in Salisbury, when a police officer is still not out of hospital for the fire somehow to be turned on Conservative party funding, to the best of my knowledge all possible checks have been made and they will continue to be made."