London Assembly report urges stronger City Hall controls in wake of Johnson-Arcuri controversy

London Assembly report urges stronger City Hall controls in wake of Johnson-Arcuri controversy

The Greater London Authority and London and Partners, the promotional company the GLA helps fund, should strengthen controls over how they conduct their business in light of concerns about potential conflicts of interest arising from Boris Johnson’s relationship with businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri during his time as Mayor of London, according to a report by members of the London Assembly.

The eleven recommendations of the eleven-strong GLA oversight committee include a GLA review of its Code of Conduct addressing “non-pecuniary interests” as part of its “rules and guidance”, and that London and Partners “addresses the risk that undue pressure from senior GLA officials and the Mayor undermines its processes and controls”.

The committee’s report follows an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, published in May 2020, which concluded that there was “no evidence” that Johnson had “influenced the payment of any sponsorship monies or participation in trade missions” and no potential criminal offence of misconduct in public office, despite the Sunday Times alleging in September 2019 that Johnson had “overruled officials” to give Arcuri “privileged access” to three overseas trade missions he led.

However, its review, having established that there had been a close relationship between Johnson and Arcuri, found that it “would have been wise for Mr Johnson to have declared this as a conflict of interest”. The IOPC review took place following the GLA’s Monitoring Officer, responsible for addressing potential breaches in GLA Code of Conduct, referred the matter to it because, as Mayor, Johnson was also head of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime and effectively its police and crime commissioner.

Even though its report said the GLA’s Code of Conduct placed no obligation on Johnson to include Arcuri’s business interests in his own register of interests, the IOPC said his failure to declare his relationship with her could have breached the broader Nolan Principles of Public Life the Code of conduct contained in the GLA code.

Arcuri’s company Innotech reportedly received over £100,000 from public bodies, including London and Partners, for her company to run promotional events both in London and abroad between 2012 and 2015, with Johnson making speeches and being present at a number of them.

She went on four trade missions abroad organised by the GLA, London and Partners and the government’s UK Trade and Investment agency (now the Department for International Trade), taking her to South Africa, Singapore and Indonesia, New York and Israel. Johnson went on three of these.

Other GLA oversight committee recommendations include that London and Partners should “promote its services more widely to ensure potential beneficiaries have equal access and that participation is not limited to those with connections to L&P” and that the GLA Code of Conduct review should look at “the use of social media as part of the rules and guidance”. Arcuri herself gave evidence to the oversight committee in September 2021 (see embedded video).

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