Prime minister Boris Johnson will not face criminal investigation into his relationship with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri while mayor of London, the Independent Office for Police Conduct has announced.
But a nine-month inquiry by the police watchdog found that there was “a close association” between Mr Johnson and the businesswoman – then in her 20s – and “there may have been an intimate relationship”.
The then mayor would have been “wise” to declare a conflict of interest and the failure to do so could have constituted a breach of the Nolan principles for standards of behaviour in public life, the IOPC said.
A spokesman for the prime minister said: “We welcome the fact that this politically motivated complaint has been thrown out. Such vexatious claims of impropriety in office were untrue and unfounded.
“An independent review by the Government Internal Audit Agency similarly showed the claims made by the Labour Party were false This was not a policing matter, and we consider this was a waste of police time.”
However, Mr Johnson now faces a renewed inquiry by the London Assembly, which was suspended while the IOPC considered the case, codenamed Operation Lansdowne.
Mr Johnson was formally referred to the police watchdog in September over public money and access to trade trips granted to Ms Arcuri when he was at City Hall.
The businesswoman, whose flat Mr Johnson visited, was awarded thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money, including £11,500 by the mayor’s promotional agency, London & Partners.
Mr Johnson’s office also intervened to give her a place on trade missions to New York and Israel with the mayor, after she was initially turned down for failing to meet criteria.
The IOPC was asked to investigate because of Mr Johnson’s responsibility for the Metropolitan Police while mayor.
In a statement, the watchdog said it had reviewd nearly 900 documents, including eight years of relevant emails and interviewed and took statements from a number of witnesses in the UK and abroad during.
IOPC director general Michael Lockwood said: “The IOPC completed a thorough, independent and impartial assessment to determine if there were reasonable grounds to suspect the criminal offence of misconduct in public office had occurred.
“We found no evidence to indicate that Mr Johnson influenced the payment of any sponsorship monies to Ms Arcuri or that he influenced or played an active part in securing her participation in trade missions.
“While there was no evidence that Mr Johnson influenced the payment of sponsorship monies or participation in trade missions, there was evidence to suggest that those officers making decisions about sponsorship monies and attendance on trade missions thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making. “