A police watchdog has claimed that deleted evidence between Boris Johnson and model-turned-businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri prevented the watchdog from establishing if the prime minister had committed misconduct in public office.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said there that here was some evidence to suggest there may have been an ‘intimate relationship’, but there were no grounds for criminal investigation.
But the report also said investigators were ‘unable to access evidence from any email accounts, computer drives, or digital devices used by Mr Johnson and his appointees’ at the time of its investigation.
The report stated that ‘evidence and information that the IOPC believes would have been relevant to the review has either never existed or has been deleted’.
It explained: ‘The material stored in digital devices, email accounts and computer drives belonging to the mayor and his appointees was deleted when he left office in 2016’
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‘The requirement in the Greater London Authority (GLA) Records Management Guidance for any material concerning GLA business (which includes sponsorship and trade missions) to be transferred to executive officers prior to deletion appears not to have been followed.’
Neither solicitors acting on behalf of Johnson, or Arcuri herself, were able to provide any documentation or correspondence relating to the pair
The report continues: ‘Mr Johnson’s solicitors have said he has no relevant documents in his custody or control, and Ms Arcuri has said that she deleted any relevant email correspondence.’
The GLA ‘promptly’ deletes e-mail and computer data of staff, which the IOPC said ‘may have prevented the review from reviewing relevant evidence’, but the authority advises that mayors should arrange for records to be preserved.
However ‘there is no evidence that Mr Johnson and his outgoing appointees transferred any records to executive officers at the end of the mayoral term in 2016, nor that they were reminded of their obligation to do so before they left’.
The IOPC said it had taken steps to access evidence but said there were no further ‘reasonable and proportionate steps that can be taken by this review or by any future criminal investigations which could result in the recovery of more material’.
It said the lost data at the GLA was a ‘matter of concern’ that it proposes taking up with the authority as the investigation concluded.
Earlier this month it was revealed Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings had signed up for a messaging service that permanently deletes texts.