‘Total nonsense’ - Norfolk MP dismisses links to ‘favourable treatment’ for Jennifer Arcuri
- Credit: Archant
A Norfolk MP dragged into the saga surrounding Boris Johnson's relationship with US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri has denied having any knowledge of wrongdoing.
George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, has labelled allegations of preferential treatment for Ms Arcuri while Mr Johnson was London mayor as "a total non-story".
The firm denial comes after the tech entrepreneur name-checked Mr Freeman in an interview with ITV's Good Morning Britain on Monday, revealing she had "a friendship" with him.
In June 2014, the pair co-hosted a 'tech v brains' summit for Ms Arcuri's company, Innotech, at the House of Commons - a slot booked by Mr Freeman.
But the 52-year-old government minister, who has long been an ally of the prime minister, says he knows nothing of any favouritism towards the former model.
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"Basically I hosted this event as a backbencher about five years ago," said Mr Freeman. "I was hosting tons of stuff in the house at that time and I do one of these types of events pretty much every week.
"They (Innotech) were a very active entrepreneurial outfit in London at the time and they asked me if I would an event for them. "This had nothing to do with Boris and I haven't spoken to Jennifer Arcuri since then.
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"This whole story is complete news to me and a total non-story. It has nothing to do with Boris' time in City Hall as mayor - it's total nonsense."
Claims Mr Johnson had failed to declare a conflict of interest over his relationship with Ms Arcuri first surfaced following an investigation by the Sunday Times.
It alleged she had received thousands of pounds in public money and joined the then-Mayor of London's trade missions, benefitting from apparent preferential treatment due to their friendship.
Mr Johnson has, however, said there was "no interest to declare", telling the BBC's Andrew Marr that "everything was done with full propriety".
In a heated interview with Good Morning Britain's Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid, Ms Arcuri said the prime minister was "a really good friend", but "never, ever gave me any favouritism".
She refused to admit whether she had an affair with Mr Johnson, telling the presenters it was "no one's business what private life we had, or didn't have".