Jennifer Arcuri: City Hall rules must be tightened after Boris Johnson inquiry

The American businesswoman’s ventures have received £126,000 in public money.

Conduct rules at London’s City Hall must be tightened, following an inquiry into former mayor Boris Johnson’s links with Jennifer Arcuri.

A report published by a watchdog committee has called for a yearly review of the code of conduct and stricter controls on declaring personal relationships.

One of the report’s authors said failure to declare any such relationship “could constitute a breach of the broader Nolan Principles” - ethical standards those in public life must follow.

Now-ex prime minister Mr Johsnon and Ms Arcuri’s relationship came under the spotlight after claims emerged that she received favourable treatment during his mayoralty.

Tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri. Photo: Getty

The American businesswoman’s ventures have received £126,000 in public money.

Newspaper the Sunday Times alleged the entrepreneur received £11,500 in sponsorship money from London & Partners (L&P), a mayoral organisation, for one of her businesses.

The paper claimed this took place when Mr Johnson was mayor of London and that he did not declare a personal interest - - but he and Ms Arcuri have denied any wrongdoing.

In 2021, watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) stated in its report there was “some evidence” they had had an “intimate relationship”.

Ms Arcuri and Mr Johnson’s links sparked criticism, including from this anti-Brexit protester holding up a placard in 2020. Photo: Getty

But the regulator concluded it was unnecessary to criminally investigate the former mayor for misconduct in public office.

Now a City Hall body which monitors standards at the Greater London Authority (GLA) - the regional government of the capital - has found rules need to be tightened after the incident.

Despite its report - dubbed ‘The London & Partners Affair’ - the oversight committee was not legally permitted to investigate whether the GLA’s code of conduct was broken.

But members agreed the code “needed strengthening” to ensure all future mayors and members of the London Assembly are required to declare their “non-pecuniary interests”.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson and his now-wife Carrie Johnson. Photo: Getty

This includes non-financial concerns, and personal relationships with relevant individuals.

Caroline Pidgeon, former committee chairman, described the circumstances of the probe as “uncomfortable” and said members were “concerned” about issues accessing information.

The Liberal Democrat assembly member said: “L&P promotes London across the world. It receives significant public money, and the public expects accountability around how its money is spent.

“While the IOPC investigation into the allegations against Boris Johnson found no evidence of a criminal offence, it did conclude that there was some evidence that Boris Johnson was in an intimate relationship with Jennifer Arcuri during some of the relevant period.”

Caroline Pidgeon, right, at the Liberal Democrat Conference in 2019. Photo: Getty

She added: “We found the evidence we heard from Jennifer Arcuri both frank and honest.

“It is clear the code has potential gaps and areas where strengthening is needed, including rules and guidance around non-pecuniary interests for the mayor and assembly members.

“There is a case for a yearly review of the code of conduct.”

Ms Pidgeon said “significant changes” had been made since 2015 on deciding who goes on trade missions, with this now organised by the mayor’s International Business Programme.

But the report called on L&P to address risks of “undue pressure” from top GLA officials and the mayor undermining its checks and balances - and publicise itself to a wider audience.

Allen Simpson, London & Partners managing director, said: “We are pleased the report so strongly endorses the quality of London & Partners work and standards of governance.

“The committee’s recommendations are very useful and we will look at how we can best implement them.”

A GLA spokesperson said: “The monitoring officer welcomes the recommendations made by the oversight committee and will take them into consideration in the forthcoming review of the GLA’s code of conduct.”

Jennifer Arcuri and Boris Johnson have been approached for comment.