- With tabloids circling, entrepreneur under pressure to talk
- Defiant Arcuri refuses to talk about relationship with premier
Jennifer Arcuri, the American entrepreneur swept up in a tabloid storm involving Boris Johnson, said Friday that she won’t discuss her relationship with the British premier but remains loyal to the man she calls a “good friend.”
In a telephone interview with Bloomberg News, the first she’s granted since the story broke two weeks ago, Arcuri said members of the news media have besieged her house in Huntington Beach, California, and followed her on errands to the supermarket and the ATM.
They’re all asking the same question: Did she have an affair with Johnson between 2012 and 2016, when he was the mayor of London and she was an impresario in the London startup scene?
Arcuri, by turns defiant and anxious in a one-hour interview, declined to confirm or deny that question and said the public had made up its mind anyway. The British media has reported the then-married mayor made visits to her flat in Shoreditch, a London neighborhood of tech startups, but no proof has emerged she was involved in an intimate relationship with Johnson.
Arcuri said she didn’t want to “feed the story” by describing her relationship with Johnson, yet she’s mortified at the damage the scandal is doing to his political fortunes as the U.K. hurtles toward Brexit on Oct. 31.
“I will not be the person to bring Boris Johnson down,” Arcuri, 34, said. “I refuse to be a pawn.”
For the last few days, Arcuri said she’s been inundated with five-digit offers from British television programs and tabloids eager to land a bombshell interview that would shed light on her connection with Johnson.
On Sept. 22, the Sunday Times of London reported that Johnson may have used his influence to get two of Arcuri’s companies, Innotech Network Ltd. and Hacker House Ltd., economic development grants from the city and places on trade missions overseas. Officials have begun three inquiries into the grants made to her firms, including a police investigation referred by the Greater London Authority.
Johnson has denied giving Arcuri and her companies any favorable treatment and has said that he acted “with full propriety.” While Arcuri said Johnson’s participation in her startup conferences gave her business a huge boost she also denies any wrongdoing.
“I know in my heart of hearts that Boris didn’t do me any favors,” she said. “I am a determined businesswoman and I was within my rights to go on those trade missions and apply for grants. I’m not some Tory girl. And my relationship with Boris is nobody’s business.”