American tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri has said her relationship with Boris Johnson “really had no bearing” on her business pursuits.
Earlier this year, Ms Arcuri claimed to have been involved in an “intimate relationship” with Boris Johnson between 2012 and 2016 during which time he was Mayor of London.
The revelation led to increased scrutiny of Ms Arcuri’s presence on three GLA overseas trade missions during that time as City Hall worked to establish whether Mr Johnson had given her “preferential treatment or access”.
Ms Arcuri on Tuesday gave evidence to the GLA oversight committee, the London Assembly body responsible for scrutinising the conduct of GLA members, where she said that it was “completely false” to suggest she had been officially invited on the trips at the behest of Boris Johnson.
She also denied ever asking the then Mayor of London to attend any overseas visits.
Speaking at City Hall, Ms Arcuri said that she had only officially attended one trade mission as a delegate, to Malaysia in September 2014.
Ms Arcuri explained she had met with the organisers of the mission prior to the trip to put forward a case for why she should attend.
But, with rumours of her relationship with Boris Johnson circling in the press, Ms Arcuri said she had doubts about attending as she did not want to “cast a dark, gloomy cloud” on the event.
The businesswoman said her relationship with Boris Johnson was never disclosed with the Greater London Authority as “people kind of assumed what they wanted”.
She said: “People knew there was an interest from [Boris Johnson] in me.
“There was never a time where I felt I had to say anything.
“People kind of assumed what they wanted.
“My relationship with the mayor had really no bearing on my complete pursuit of London.”
During Tuesday’s session, Ms Arcuri denied that she had been officially invited to two other trade missions in New York and Tel Aviv.
Regarding the trip to New York, Ms Arcuri said that she was already in the city and “wanted to go to some events with my London friends” while they were there.
Though she said she was given permission to be at the event by the then-mayor’s director of communications, Ms Arcuri said that she “would not take no for an answer” and that she “would just go”.
Boris Johnson’s alleged relationship with Ms Arcuri during his time as mayor was the subject of an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct in 2019.
But the IOPC decided not to pursue a criminal investigation into the matter, concluding that there was no evidence to suggest Mr Johnson had any role in securing Ms Arcuri’s place on the overseas visits.
The issue was referred back to the London Assembly to determine whether Mr Johnson had breached the GLA’s code of conduct by providing Ms Arcuri with “preferential access or treatment”.
But during Tuesday’s meeting at City Hall, chair of the GLA oversight committee Caroline Pidgeon stressed the committee was not investigating a breach of the code of conduct nor should it be seen to be “disciplining” the former Mayor of London.