Boris Johnson followed “all legal requirements” while pursuing an alleged four year sexual relationship with Jennifer Arcuri, Number 10 has insisted.
And they refused to say if he will fully comply with a London Assembly probe into whether he broke ethics rules – or give evidence in person.
The Prime Minister faces a London Assembly probe into possible conflicts of interest while he was Mayor of London – which could see him summonsed to appear in person.
But while Allegra Stratton, the PM’s press secretary said Mr Johnson would “engage” with the probe, she claimed a separate Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) probe had found there was “no case to answer”.
She also claimed the IOPC had declared allegations of impropriety “unfounded and untrue”, which they did not.
The body’s report said they had found “some evidence” of a relationship between the pair, but not that the affair had had any influence on the tech entrepreneur being granted access to overseas trips with Mr Johnson.
They said would have been “wise” for the Tory politician to have declared this as a conflict of interest but ruled that it was “unnecessary” for him to now face a police inquiry.
Ms Arcuri admitted the four year affair in a world exclusive interview with the Sunday Mirror.
The Prime Minister could face a legal summons to appear as a witness before the Greater London Authority later this year, insiders confirmed – though No10 is expected to resist such a move.
Asked if Boris Johnson believed he abided by the Nolan principles of ethics for public office, she said: “Yes, the then mayor and now the Prime Minister Boris Johnson does believe he followed all the legal requirements.
“And indeed the Independent Office for Police Conduct when they looked into this matter found that to be the case.”
She said this despite the IOPC only looking at whether the PM should face a criminal investigation – not whether he broke non-criminal ethics rules.
Indeed, the IOPC found there was “some evidence” he and Ms Arcuri “may have been in an intimate relationship” and if they were, “it would have been wise for him to have declared this as a conflict of interest.
“A failure to do so could have constituted a breach of the broader Nolan principles contained within the GLA 2012 Code of Conduct.”
Despite this Ms Stratton repeatedly claimed the IOPC had found claims of impropriety were “untrue and unfounded”.
She said: “Its finding was that there was no case – let me use the exact language, ‘claims of impropriety in office were untrue and unfounded’.”
Those words do not appear to be anywhere in the IOPC’s report and appear only to have been used by a No10 spokesperson, not independent investigators.
Asked if he would fully comply with the London Assembly investigation, which resumes in May, Ms Stratton said: “This has already been looked at.
“The Prime Minister will engage, but this has already been looked at in detail by no less an authority than the IOPC and it found these claims were untrue and unfounded.
“This has been looked at in depth and there was found to be no case to answer.”
She refused to retract Boris Johnson’s claim in 2019 that there was “no interest to declare” in their relationship, saying: “The Prime Minister was backed up in that assertion by the IOPC that found claims of impropriety in office were untrue and unfounded.”
Asked if he’d give evidence to the London Assembly in person, she said: “I’m not going to get into these hypotheticals.”
She added: “Public time, money and effort has been spent looking into whether or not there’s any wrongdoing and it was found that the Prime Minister, the then London mayor, has no case to answer.
“The work has been done, the inquiry has happened, and the Prime Minister has been found with no case to answer.”
Asked if the Prime Minister was happy to do something unethical as long as it was legal, she replied: “That’s not what I’ve said”.