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PRIME Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to explain allegations that he failed to declare potential conflicts of interest, after a newspaper claimed that a friend of his received over £100,000 in public money.
The allegation appeared on the front of the Sunday Times today, but the paper’s other page-one story — about the resignation of a Jeremy Corbyn aide — received far more coverage.
Jon Trickett, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, said Mr Johnson should provide full disclosure on the corruption allegations.
The Sunday Times claimed that, when London mayor, Mr Johnson gave privileged access to his friend, US model turned technology entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri.
It is alleged that Ms Arcuri was given £126,000 in public money and taken on three foreign trade missions led by Mr Johnson.
They included a trip to New York, for which she had initially been turned down. After she discussed the matter with Mr Johnson, he overturned the decision.
Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri also travelled to Tel Aviv in Israel despite her application initially being rejected by the mayor’s promotional agency.
Reacting to the revelations, Mr Trickett said: “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.”
“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.”
Labour leader Mr Corbyn pointed out that, after his interview with Andrew Marr on BBC television this morning, the same programme went on to interview Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab without asking any questions regarding the front page.
Ms Arcuri was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying: “Any grants received by my companies and any trade mission I joined were purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman.”
She did not comment on the nature of her relationship with Mr Johnson.
Downing Street has also declined to comment.
Mr Trickett’s office said there was a precedent for the Prime Minister resigning if he cannot explain these events, citing Liam Fox standing down as defence secretary in 2011.
Mr Fox was found to have procured high-level overseas meetings for his friend and adviser Adam Werrity.
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