Boris Johnson called on to resign if he can’t answer conflict of interest allegations

Entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri giving a TED Talk in 2016. Boris Johnson has been accused of failing to

Entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri giving a TED Talk in 2016. Boris Johnson has been accused of failing to declare a conflict of interest in connection to public funds given to Arcuri, reportedly a personal friend. Picture: TED Talks - Credit: TED Talks

There are calls for Boris Johnson's resignation if he cannot explain why he did not declare a potential conflict of interest over public funds given to a reportedly close female friend.

Shadow minister Jon Trickett said Johnson should give a "full account of his actions" after a Sunday Times investigation revealed question marks over £126,000 in business cash awarded to entrepreneur and alleged close friend during Johnson's time as Mayor of London.

The investigation reports that American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri was given business support and access to official overseas trade missions, despite her business not always meeting the correct criteria.

It claims that Johnson and his close team personally overruled officials to take Arcuri on the trips, and was also a close personal friend and a regular visitor to Arcuri's flat.

There has been no suggestion of wrongdoing on Arcuri's part. However, under Greater London Authority rules Johnson was bound as Mayor not to give favours to friends, and to declare any potential conflicts of interest.

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The reports have sparked a DCMS investigation.

Trickett described the allegations as "grave and most serious".

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"Boris Johnson must now give a full account of his actions in response to these grave and most serious allegations of the misuse use of public money in his former role as mayor of London," he said.

"The public has a right to know how and why these funds were used for the benefit of a close personal friend without on the face of it legitimate reason.

"This cannot be swept under the carpet. It is a matter of the integrity of the man now leading our country, who appears to believe he can get away with anything."

The Labour party argues that there are numerous precedents for a minister's resignation in similar instances.

Priti Patel was forced to resign as international development secretary in November 2017 following a conflict of interest arising from secret meetings with the Israeli government.

Grant Shapps resigned from the same position two years earlier, in the wake of revelations that he had been warned about bullying in the party before the death of one of its young activists.

Damian Green resigned his Cabinet Office ministerial role in December 2017, after being found to have lied about the presence of pornographic images on his office computer.

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