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UK watchdog clears Johnson of criminal wrongdoing

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will not face a criminal investigation into whether he offered special favors to an American businesswoman during his time as mayor of London. The Independent Office for Police Conduct ruled Thursday against a criminal investigation into Johnson’s ties to tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri.

The office, which oversees police complaints in England, was asked to consider if there were grounds to investigate him for misconduct in public office. Johnson has vociferously denied wrongdoing. It said that while its review established that “there may have been an intimate relationship” between Johnson and Arcuri, “we found no evidence to indicate that Mr. Johnson influenced the payment of any sponsorship monies to Ms. Arcuri, or that he influenced or played an active part in securing her participation in trade missions.”

The office added that “it would have been wise” for Johnson to declare the relationship as a conflict of interest. A spokesman for Johnson welcomed the decision, calling the complaint politically motivated and the months-long review “a waste of police time."

“Such vexatious claims of impropriety in office were untrue and unfounded," the spokesman said. Johnson served as London mayor from 2008 to 2016. The case arose from a Sunday Times report that Arcuri's business was given thousands of pounds in sponsorship from an organization overseen by Johnson, as well as privileged access while on trade trips that Johnson led as mayor. Arcuri describes herself on her Twitter feed as an entrepreneur and producer.

The Greater London Authority immediately announced that its investigation into Johnson’s conduct would continue, even though a criminal investigation has now been ruled out. “Our investigation will consider whether Boris Johnson conducted himself in a way that’s expected from anyone in that position,’’ said Len Duvall, chair of the authority’s oversight committee. “It’s important we get those answers, because Londoners deserve to have their politicians held accountable.

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