PM won’t face criminal investigation over Hacker House

Stephen Chapman's picture

Boris Johnson and the Greater London Authority (GLA) won’t face a criminal investigation into their dealings with an American businesswoman.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct has just published its report, following a 10 month review into Johnson’s relationship with Jennifer Arcuri.

Arcuri’s digital training company, Hacker House, which was registered to an address in Cheshire received thousands of pounds in sponsorship grants when Johnson was London Mayor. Arcuri also joined trade missions, despite the company actually being headquartered in California.

Johnson has always denied any wrongdoing.

“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,” said Director General Michael Lockwood.

“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. “

The review also established there “was a close association between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri and there may have been an intimate relationship.”

However, the GLA code of conduct at the time stated that even if there was an intimate relationship, Johnson had no obligation to include Arcruri’s business interests in his own register of interests.

The review says that “it would have been wise for Mr Johnson to have declared this as a conflict of interest, and a failure to do so could have constituted a breach of these broader principles contained within the GLA 2012 Code of Conduct.  As this does not amount to a potential criminal offence, this is now a matter for the GLA to consider.”

Hacker House received £47k of a £100k grant from the Government’s Cyber Security Immediate Impact Fund, with the remainder of cash put on hold until the review was completed.

The IOPC handled the review, because as Mayor of London, Johnson was also head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.

It added that the review took longer than expected due “to the poor quality of information provided in the initial referral, a lack of records and delays in third parties providing information. Some of the records which would have assisted the review either never existed or have been deleted.”

Len Duvall OBE AM, Chair of the GLA Oversight Committee said in a statement:

“The IOPC was looking specifically at whether he committed a criminal offence. That’s not our remit and their decision doesn’t have any real bearing on our investigation, which will focus on his conduct as Mayor of London.

“Everyone who holds public office whether you’re the Mayor of London, or indeed the Prime Minister, is expected to adhere to the principles of public life – including integrity, selflessness, openness and honesty, to name a few.

“Our investigation will consider whether Boris Johnson conducted himself in a way that’s expected from anyone in that position. It’s important we get those answers, because Londoners deserve to have their politicians held accountable.

“The Oversight Committee will take into account the current emergency when looking at the timetable for the investigation.”