The Speaker
Saturday, 20 July 2024 – 06:56

Boris Johnson in hot water for abusing public funds

News broke yesterday that Boris Johnson had been allegedly abusing public funds during his time as Mayor of London to send a friend on trade missions she was not qualified to attend.

The now prime minister failed to declare conflicts of interest over a close friendship with entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri, whom he grew close to during his time as the mayor.

Despite subordinates attempting to prevent the trips from taking place, Boris Johnson repeatedly overruled staff to give a total of £126,000 to Acruri, whilst giving her privileged access to three trade missions, despite her tech firm not meeting the criteria for such trips.

Jennifer Acruri’s business received a £10,000 sponsorship grant from an organisation which the then London Mayor oversaw, despite him failing to declare the potential conflict of interest.

That is despite the Greater London Authority (GLA) code of conduct explicitly outlining that members must “declare any private interests relating to their public duties and to take steps to resolve conflicts arising in a way that protects the public interest”.

The motivations for his abuse of public funds has not been clear, although it is likely that there would have been some personal gain for the prime minister in this arrangement.

The former mayor was reportedly a frequent visitor to Acruri’s flat in Shoreditch, East London, also attending numerous events aimed at promoting his friends’ company.

It has additionally been reported that a grant of £100,000 was awarded to  Hacker House, a company owned by Arcuri, who has since moved back to her native United States. This payment is reportedly being investigated by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, who are responsible for the scheme; noting that the funds were awarded to a UK registered company.

The revelations have been met with condemnation from the Labour Party, with the leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn outlining that the lack of media coverage on the story is an example of the establishment at work.

Speaking in a video to his Twitter followers, the Labour leader discussed an “abuse of power” and questioned why Boris Johnson’s deputy, Dominic Raab, was not questioned on the matter during an interview hours after the story was broken.

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It is unclear as to whether the revelations will be met with any response from the Prime Minister or from Downing Street, both of whom are yet to comment on the matter, with Boris Johnson refusing to answer questions about his relationship with Arcuri on a total of 6 occasions.

Mr Johnson is already in the courts this week, with the Supreme Court set to rule on whether his move to prorogue parliament was illegal in the next few days, this latest revelation could only compound his recent legal woes.

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