Boris Johnson requested that American businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri join a foreign trade mission to Tel Aviv when he was London Mayor, a report claims.
An ex-City Hall worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told Sky News they were “surprised” to see Arcuri in Tel Aviv.
“I turned to the person organising the trip and asked: ‘What’s she doing here?’ Apparently the mayor asked for her to be involved,” the former adviser claimed.
“I thought it was very unusual for her to be on this trip because it was so focused on educational technology and that wasn’t her business,” the source told the broadcaster.
Johnson has been referred to the police complaints body to assess whether he should face a criminal investigation over his links with the 34-year-old American.
Arcuri, a technology entrepreneur and ex model, said she had every right to go on overseas trade missions with Johnson when he was London mayor.
“This is an orchestrated attack on me, absolutely,” she told the Daily Mail in Los Angeles, where she now lives.
“I had every right to be on those trips as a legitimate businesswoman and stand by everything that happened because these allegations are completely false.”
In an interview with LBC radio this week, Johnson suggested stories about him and Arcuri had come to light because of his Government’s stance on Brexit.
“There are quite a lot of well-meaning and highly intelligent people who basically think that that would be something they don’t want to see, and I think that there is a concerted effort now to frustrate Brexit,” he said.
Reports claimed that Arcuri, who moved to London seven years ago, was given £126,000 in public money and was given privileged access to three foreign trade missions led by Johnson during this time as London mayor.
But the Prime Minister, who was embraced by his partner, Carrie Symonds, after his leader’s speech at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester on Wednesday, said “everything was done with complete propriety”.