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Jennifer Arcuri refuses to rule out claims of affair with Boris Johnson

US businesswoman denies PM helped her career when he was mayor of London

The American businesswoman at the center of a conflict of interest row involving the prime minister confirmed she has a “very close bond” with Boris Johnson and refused to rule out claims they were having an affair.

In her first broadcast interview since her links to Johnson were exposed, Jennifer Arcuri said the then London mayor visited her Shoreditch flat a “handful of times” but she denied he had given her favors to boost her career.

Speaking live to ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Arcuri said her business achievements as a technology entrepreneur were made without the help of Johnson. “Boris had nothing to do with my other achievements,” she said.

Asked if she ever discussed the awarding of that money with Johnson, Arcuri said: “Categorically no”. She added: “Do you think I would waste his time talking about this stuff?”

Asked if she loved Johnson, she said: “I care about him deeply as a friend and we do share a very close bond, but I wish him well. I want him to be happy. I wish Carrie [Symonds] well. And I really do want him to focus on making Britain great again.”

She said she and Johnson “always had a laugh” about the pole in her Shoreditch flat where a offices were located. She said: “I said he could have a go. He sat down with his tea and started muttering.”

She also confirmed the Guardian’s revelation that she listed Johnson on her phone as “Alex the Great”.

She said she could not recall how many times Johnson visited her flat but suggested it was between five and 10 times.

“We tried having drinks out in public or having lunch, it just became too much of a mob show, so I said: ‘You just have to come to my office.’”

Johnson insisted last week that everything he did when promoting London overseas as mayor was done in “complete conformity with the code and the rules”. He also claimed there he had no interest to declare over Arcuri.

Following allegations about favors and funds given to Arcuri, four separate inquiries have been launched:

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport is withholding more than half of a £100,000 grant to promote UK digital awarded this year to Arcuri’s company, Hacker House, pending a review into how the money was allocated.

 The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, launched an independent review into how Arcuri was given sponsorship and access to trade trips led by Johnson when he was mayor.

 The London assembly’s oversight committee has given Johnson until next week to explain his apparent conflicts of interest over Arcuri.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has been asked to look at whether Johnson committed a criminal offense of misconduct in public office because during his time as mayor he was also responsible for the Metropolitan police.