Jeremy Corbyn has criticised parts of the media for having ‘barely touched’ news of allegations that Boris Johnson is embroiled in a potential conflict of interest.
A Sunday Times exclusive has raised questions around public money and business perks Johnson awarded American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri during his time as mayor of London.
The report claimed that Arcuri, a reportedly “close friend” of Johnson who received £126,000 in support, had not qualified for the cash and that Johnson and his team had intervened to overrule official decision-making.
Corbyn said: “There was something important in one of the Sunday papers today about an alleged abuse of power and misuse 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.”
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Corbyn noted that foreign secretary Dominic Raab was asked nothing on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
He said: “I was on the BBC’s flagship news programme this morning and I was asked about a range of issues.
“That’s fine. It’s right. It’s justified. It’s how our democracy works.
“But I was followed by Boris Johnson’s deputy, who was asked nothing about these allegations.
“This is how the establishment works. They close ranks. They put privilege first.
“Things have to change.
“Labour will put people first before privilege.”
Corbyn’s remarks came after the Sunday Times reported the potential conflicts that arose through Johnson’s association with model-turned-technology entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri, who moved to London seven years ago.
The paper says Arcuri was given £126,000 of public money and was afforded privileged access to three foreign trade missions led by the then-mayor.
Earlier, Labour shadow minister Jon Trickett called on the prime minister to “give a full account of his actions”.
READ: Boris Johnson called on to resign if he can’t answer conflict of interest allegationsHe added that “this cannot be swept under the carpet”.
He said: “It is a matter of the integrity of the man now leading our country, who appears to believe he can get away with anything.”
Downing Street has declined to comment.
Arcuri, now 34, 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.”
She did not comment on the nature of her relationship with Johnson.
Marr said on Twitter that he welcomed advice on how to do his job.
Responding to a reference on social media that the BBC would “push back” against Corbyn’s claims, Marr said: “Pushback?
“Well, I was genuinely pleased that, on what cannot have been an easy morning for him, JC turned up for a live interview.
“And of course I always welcome helpful advice on how to do my job.”