British PM Boris Johnson denied wrongdoing Sunday over his links to American tech entrepreneur and model Jennifer Arcuri, who allegedly received money and favorable treatment because of their friendship while he was mayor of London. During a BBC interview, Johnson sought to suggest that political motivations were behind the decision Friday by the Greater London Authority to refer a conduct matter to a police watchdog agency. The matter arose from a Sunday Times report saying Arcuri was given $155,000 in public money and privileged access to trade missions to the US, Israel, and Asia that Johnson led as mayor, even though her fledgling business had not met eligibility requirements for such trips. "Everything was done with full propriety," Johnson said, per the AP. Pressed again by BBC journalist Andrew Marr, Johnson added: "There was no interest to declare."
The Times is now reporting that Arcuri told friends that the relationship was sexual while Johnson was in office. The scandal worsened Sunday as Johnson's Conservative Party was opening its annual party conference in Manchester following a tumultuous week for a leader who has only been in the job since July. In just the last few days, the UK Supreme Court declared Johnson's attempt to suspend Parliament illegal and he cut short a trip to the United States, racing home to face the House of Commons, where lawmakers greeted him with cries of "Resign!" He then lost a vote on a normally routine matter—a request to adjourn for a week so that Conservatives could attend their conference. Complicating things further, questions were raised about the 55-year-old Johnson's links to Arcuri, now 34, who set up a cyber firm in East London after moving to the capital seven years ago.
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