A shadow minister has questioned Boris Johnson’s integrity over new revelations that the prime minister backed friend Jennifer Arcuri for a job she did not ‘remotely’ have the qualifications for.
Johnson reportedly wrote a letter recommending Arcuri for the post of CEO at a tech quango when he was mayor of London.
After Johnson claimed that there was no conflict of interest in the recommendation, Labour shadow minister for the cabinet office has called on Johnson to stop “stonewalling” the issue.
In emails leaked to the Sunday Times, American businesswoman Arcuri reveals that she thought it was “just hysterical” that she had got Johnson to recommend her for the £100,000-a-year post at Tech City.
The job that 27-year-old student Arcuri applied for looked for “proven business leaders”.
Arcuri allegedly later wrote: “I still have the letter of rec from Boris. hahaha. To think that we asked him to write us a recommendation for the CEO of Tech City is just hysterical.”
She listed “Boris Johnson, Mayor of London” as a reference on the application, according to the paper.
The report adds to the growing questions around Johnson’s potential conflicts of interest in the considerable support he gave Arcuri in obtaining £126,000 of public money and privileged access to trade missions.
He has denied having an affair with Arcuri.
MORE: Boris Johnson visited Jennifer Arcuri’s flat because he was ‘naive about technology’He has been referred to the police complaints body to assess whether he should face a criminal investigation over his association with the businesswoman.
However, he has told interviewers that everything was entirely above board, refusing to say whether he had declared the conflict of interest by claiming: “There is no interest to declare”.
Pushed on the matter by BBC’s Andrew Marr, he insisted that all his actions had been in accordance with the mayoral office’s code of conduct.
Commenting, Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow minister for the Cabinet Office said the new allegation is “incredibly serious”.
“Johnson cannot continue to stonewall and refuse to give a full account of his actions,” he continued. “The integrity of the prime minister is called into question when he acts as if he believes he can get away with anything.
“The public have a right to know if their prime minister has in the past misused public funds, and abused his office and position of power. This cannot be swept under the carpet.”
Former attorney general Dominic Grieve told the Sunday Times: “The fact that Boris Johnson was apparently prepared to provide a letter of endorsement for an extremely important job to somebody who didn’t have anything remotely approaching the necessary qualifications is astonishing.”