Boris Johnson won't face criminal inquiry over contracts won by American friend

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not face criminal action following allegations of misconduct over his relationship with U.S tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri, police said on Thursday.

Jennifer Arcuri received contracts from City of London agency when Boris Johnson was mayor

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is shown Wednesday outside 10 Downing Street in London. A spokesperson for Johnson welcomed the IOPC decision, decrying the 'vexatious claims of impropriety.' (REUTERS)

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not face criminal action following allegations of misconduct over his relationship with a U.S. tech entrepreneur, the police watchdog said on Thursday.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct, a police watchdog, launched an investigation last September following a newspaper report that Johnson had failed to disclose his personal links to Arcuri, who received thousands of pounds in public business funding and places on official trade trips.

"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," IOPC Director General Michael Lockwood said in the statement published Thursday.

Johnson denied any wrongdoing, saying everything was done with full propriety and that there was no interest to declare.

"We welcome the fact that this politically motivated complaint has been thrown out," his spokesman said on Thursday. "Such vexatious claims of impropriety in office were untrue and unfounded."

"An independent review by the Government Internal Audit Agency similarly showed the claims made by the Labour Party were false," the spokesman said. "This was not a policing matter, and we consider this was a waste of police time."

U.S. businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri seen leaving BBC television studios in London on Nov. 18, 2019. Arcuri said then that her personal relationship with Johnson was damaged after the investigation became public. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

The Mirror, citing unnamed sources, first reported on Thursday that the IOPC was to recommend there be no criminal investigation.

The London Assembly — the elected body of the Greater London Authority — said it would continue with its investigation into Johnson's links with Arcuri. That probe had been put on hold pending the IOPC investigation.

'Some evidence' of an intimate relationship

The matter was referred to the watchdog because Johnson was head of the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime, a role equivalent to a police commissioner, during his 2008-2016 term as mayor.

The Greater London Authority said it had alerted the IOPC because Innotech, Arcuri's then-company, had received 11,500 pounds ($19,550 Cdn) from London & Partners, the mayor's promotional agency, for two events in 2013 and 2014.

She attended a trade mission to Singapore and Malaysia in 2014 through Playbox, one of her companies, even though an initial application through Innotech had been declined.

Last October, the government's Internal Audit Agency ruled a decision to award a 100,000 pound grant ($170,000 Cdn) to a company run by Arcuri was appropriate.

Arcuri gave a number of TV interviews after the allegations came to light, saying she and Johnson had enjoyed a "very special relationship," having bonded over classical literature, but said he had never shown her any favouritism.

She repeatedly refused to say whether she had had an affair with Johnson but castigated him, saying he had cast her aside like "some gremlin" after the reports surfaced.

The IOPC said in its decision, "there is some evidence that Mr. Johnson and Ms. Arcuri may have been in an intimate relationship during some of the relevant time period when Ms. Arcuri attended trade missions."

Read the IOPC report:

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With files from CBC News