Boris Johnson: Behaviour rules 'must be tightened' at City Hall, report into ex-mayor finds

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City Hall’s code of conduct must be strengthened, a review into Boris Johnson’s links with an American businesswoman has found.

Jennifer Arcuri’s dealings with the former mayor of London came under scrutiny over allegations she received favourable treatment for her business ventures.

The entrepreneur was granted £126,000 in public funding and privileged access to foreign trade missions while he was in City Hall between 2008 and 2016.

Mr Johnson avoided a criminal investigation after the Independent Office for Police Conduct found no evidence he had influenced the payments.

Jennifer Arcuri giving evidence via videolink on her role on trade missions when Boris Johnson was mayor of London Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

The Greater London Authority (GLA), which was not legally permitted to investigate whether the code of conduct was broken, has now recommended its rulebook should be strengthened.

In a report published on Tuesday, a cross-party group of assembly members (AMs) recommended the code be updated to ensure that any mayor or assembly member should be in no doubt that they should declare non-pecuniary interests such as personal relationships with individuals.

The GLA’s oversight committee also recommended that the city’s promotional company, London and Partners (L&P), should do more to publicise its services and sponsorship cash to ensure equal opportunities to all, not just those with connections to it.

Former chair of the GLA’s oversight committee, Caroline Pidgeon AM, said: “The circumstances surrounding this investigation were uncomfortable for many members of the committee and we remain concerned about the challenge we faced in accessing relevant information.

“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.

“If he was in such a relationship, failing to declare this as a conflict of interest could have constituted a breach of the broader Nolan Principles, the ethical standards those working in the public sector are expected to adhere to.

Boris Johnson with his wife, Carrie. Credit: Jacob King/PA

“We found the evidence we heard from Jennifer Arcuri both frank and honest.”

Last year, Ms Arcuri agreed to be interviewed by the committee, and to share her diaries with the investigation.

Lib Dem AM Ms Pidgeon added that the GLA code of conduct “has potential gaps and areas where strengthening is needed”, and said there was a case for a yearly review of the code of conduct.

She also acknowledged “significant changes have been made” since 2015 in the process for deciding who goes on trade missions.

Allen Simpson, the managing director of strategy and governance at L&P, said: “We are pleased that 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.”

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