Saturday 19 October 2019

'Boris and I have a very close bond' - ex-model refuses to say if they had affair

  • Arcuri 'never' received favour from then-mayor

  • Says PM had ‘nothing to do’ with grant for business

Denial: Entrepreneur and former model Jennifer Arcuri spoke to ‘Good Morning Britain’ about the claims in the British media. Photo: ITV/PA Wire
Denial: Entrepreneur and former model Jennifer Arcuri spoke to ‘Good Morning Britain’ about the claims in the British media. Photo: ITV/PA Wire

Catherine Wylie, Caitlin Doherty, and Joe Gammie

The US businesswoman at the centre of a storm over her links to Boris Johnson insisted she "never, ever" received favouritism, but refused to say whether they had an affair.

Jennifer Arcuri said she and Mr Johnson, who she saved on her phone as "Alex the Great", bonded over their "mutual love of classic literature".

The entrepreneur refused to say whether she had had a sexual relationship with Mr Johnson, saying it is "no one's business what private life we had, or didn't have".

Asked about her interview, Mr Johnson told the BBC: "I've really said everything I want to say about that."

Ms Arcuri was speaking on ITV's 'Good Morning Britain' following stories about her links to Mr Johnson during his tenure as London mayor.

The former model, who said she met Mr Johnson in October 2011, was asked if their friendship had developed into an intimate relationship.

She said "it wasn't like he singled me out", adding: "He is there to, you know, talk to anybody who gets in his face enough. And he was always a really good friend.

"And I think it's quite unfortunate that it becomes that a good friend, who has now been, you know, now I'm dragged into the middle of this horrific scandal, you know, and the answer that I'm going to give is now going to be weaponised against this man.

Boris Johnson said he had ‘no interest to declare’ over Arcuri. Photo: Getty Images
Boris Johnson said he had ‘no interest to declare’ over Arcuri. Photo: Getty Images

"It's really categorically no one's business what private life we had, or didn't have. But - and categorically more important - 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 my asking to go to trips."

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell said regardless of the exact nature of Mr Johnson's relationship with Ms Arcuri, the pair were "close" and that he "misled the public when he said 'there was no interest to declare'".

Ms Arcuri said Mr Johnson had visited her flat in Shoreditch - also where her office was based - a "handful" of times, adding that she did not have time for the media attention surrounding him when they met in public. "We tried having drinks out in public or having lunch; it just became too much of a mob show, so I said 'You just have to come to my office'," she said.

She said the prime minister had been at her flat "five, 10, a handful of times", but insisted that he had nothing to do with her other achievements.

Ms Arcuri said the press has turned her into an "objectified ex-model pole dancer", referring to the pole in her flat.

Describing it as a "conversation-starter", she said: "The pole stood in the living room, yes, he saw the pole."

When asked directly whether Mr Johnson had ever used the pole, Ms Arcuri said: "I'm never going to tell you that."

She said: "I really enjoyed, you know, being able to be his friend and be able to, you know, share in that kind of passion for literature.

"But Boris is extremely personable. He cares a lot about this country, and he cares a lot about people. And I, you know, he is a guy you want to hang out with."

Asked if she ever loved Mr Johnson, she said: "I've been asked that many times. And I care about him deeply as a friend, and we do share a very close bond, but I wish him well. I want them to be happy. I wish Carrie well, and like I said, I really do want him to focus on making Britain great again."

Ms Arcuri was reportedly given £126,000 (€141,000) in public money and privileged access to three foreign trade missions led by Mr Johnson while he was in City Hall.

Last month, the prime minister was referred to the police complaints body to assess whether he should face a criminal investigation over his association with her.

The 'Sunday Times' reported that the businesswoman confided to four friends that they had been engaged in an affair during his time as mayor. But Ms Arcuri told 'GMB': "Those people are not my friends."

Mr Johnson insisted last week that everything he did when promoting London overseas as mayor was done in "complete conformity with the code and the rules".

The 'Sunday Times' also reported that Mr Johnson wrote a letter recommending Ms Arcuri for a job as the head of a technology quango when he was in City Hall. Leaked emails seen by the paper suggested Mr Johnson was listed as a reference in her application for the role at Tech City. She told 'GMB': "Boris never wrote me a letter. Never."

Ms Arcuri said she never discussed sponsorship or grants with Mr Johnson, and asked if she had asked him to help with "sponsorship money", she said: "Categorically no."

She said she used £10,000 (€11,200) from London & Partners, the promotional agency run by the Mayor of London, to "produce (an) event" she hosted in 2013.

Ms Arcuri said Mr Johnson had "nothing to do" with the £100,000 (€112,000) grant given to her company, Hacker House, in January this year.

Asked if the firm operates out of the UK, despite her relocation to the US, she said: "Yes, we operate out of the UK."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News