The US businesswoman at the centre of a storm over her links to Boris Johnson has refused to say whether they had an affair.
Jennifer Arcuri said she and Johnson, who she saved on her phone as “Alex the Great”, bonded over their “mutual love of classic literature”.
The model turned technology entrepreneur refused to answer when asked whether she had had a sexual relationship with Boris Johnson, but insisted that he “never ever gave me any favouritism”.
Harder to explain for Johnson, is why his equally reticent pal’s business received £10,000 in sponsorship from an organisation overseen by him as mayor in 2013, with no conflicts of interest declared by him.
A further £15,000 was said to have come in 2014 and a £100,000 grant from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport earlier this year.
Ms Arcuri was speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain following a series of stories about her links to the Prime Minister during his tenure as London mayor.
Ms Arcuri said that the married then London Mayor had visited her flat a “handful” of times, adding that she did not have time for the media attention surrounding him when they met in public.
She added: “We tried having drinks out in public or having lunch, it just became too much of a mob show, so I said ‘you just have to come to my office’.”
Ms Arcuri said that her office was in her Shoreditch flat, which also featured a pole-dancing pole.
She said the Prime Minister had been there “five, ten, a handful of times” and described him as “a really good friend”, adding: “It’s really not anyone’s business what private life we had.”
Ms Arcuri refused to answer questions on whether she had an “intimate relationship” with Johnson.
She insisted Johnson had not had anything to do with her other achievements, and added: “Because the press have made me this objectified ex-model pole dancer, I am really not going to answer that question.
“I am not going to be putting myself in a position for you to weaponise my answer.
“Boris had nothing to do with my other achievements.”
Ms Arcuri also said the Prime Minister “asked me to show him a few things” on the pole she had in her flat.
Describing it as a “conversation starter,” she said she and Johnson “always had a laugh about it”.
“The pole stood in the living room, yes, he saw the pole.”
When asked directly whether Boris Johnson had ever used the pole, Ms Arcuri said: “I’m never going to tell you that.”
The former model was reportedly given £126,000 in public money and privileged access to three foreign trade missions led by Johnson while he was in City Hall. It is alleged that Johnson overcame objections to her going on foreign jaunts as she did not qualify, or declare his personal interest in the matter.
One aide to Boris Johnson has said the then London Mayor intervened to make sure Jennifer Arcuri was present on a trip to Israel despite the fact that she should not have qualified for the taxpayer-funded jaunt.
Last month, the Prime Minister was referred to the police complaints body to assess whether he should face a criminal investigation over his association with her.
The Sunday Times has reported that the businesswoman confided to four friends that they had been engaged in an affair during his time as mayor.
But Ms Arcuri told GMB: “Those people are not my friends.”
People reacted sceptically to the interview.
Mr Johnson insisted last week that everything he did when promoting London overseas as mayor was done in “complete conformity with the code and the rules”.
Over the weekend, the Sunday Times also reported that Mr Johnson wrote a letter recommending Ms Arcuri for a job as the head of a technology quango when he was in City Hall.
Dominic Grieve, expelled from the party under Boris Johnson for voting to prevent Britain crashing out of the EU with no deal, said the revelations were “astonishing”, especially as Johnson didn’t declare any interest and Arcuri was woefully under qualified.
Leaked emails seen by the Sunday Times suggested Mr Johnson was listed as a reference in her application for the role at Tech City.
Ms Arcuri was said to have been a 27-year-old student at the time of applying for the £100,000 a year job.
Boris Johnson risks jail sentence
Boris Johnson may refuse to appear before the London Assembly to explain his failure to disclose his relationship to US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri who benefitted from large financial grants and foreign tax-payer funded missions with Johnson, the Tory Party chairman has hinted.
James Cleverly said it was the job of Parliament to hold the Prime Minister to account, not the London Assembly. But the London Assembly reaffirmed this morning that the PM has 48 hours to answer their serious questions.
Members of the Assembly on Tuesday gave the PM a two-week deadline to provide “details and a timeline of all contact with Jennifer Arcuri including social, personal and professional during his period of office as mayor of London”.
Refusing to comply could see the Conservative leader formally summoned by City Hall and in breach of the law.
A three-month prison sentence can be slapped on those who disobey a summons from the Assembly.
“Everything was done with complete propriety”
The Sunday Times revealed that Ms Arcuri, an American who moved to London seven years ago, was given £126,000 in public money and was treated to privileged access to three foreign trade missions led by Johnson while he was mayor of London.
The PM has repeatedly refused to clarify the nature of his relationship with the woman whose Shoreditch home he reportedly used “afternoon breaks in his mayoral diary” to pop over to, while married to second wife Marina Wheeler, mother to four of his five children.
In recent days, Downing Street has also been forced to deny claims that Mr Johnson squeezed the thigh of a female journalist under the table during a private lunch.
Charlotte Edwardes said the incident took place at the offices of The Spectator in London shortly after Mr Johnson became the magazine’s editor in 1999.