October 31, 2019 / 9:03 PM / 21 days ago

UK grant for firm run by Johnson's friend was appropriate: audit

LONDON (Reuters) - A decision by Britain’s government to award a 100,000-pound ($129,500) grant to a company run by an American businesswoman who was a friend of Boris Johnson before he became prime minister was appropriate, a government audit report said.

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to Dr Sarah Bowdin at the National Institute for Health Research at the Cambridge Clinical Research Facility, in Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, Britain October 31, 2019. Alastair Grant/Pool via REUTERS

Britain’s digital and media department awarded the grant last year to Hacker House, a cyber company founded and run by Jennifer Arcuri as its chief executive.

British media have reported that the company failed to satisfy eligibility criteria.

“In respect of the grant award to Hacker House Ltd, the assessment of eligibility and subsequent award of a reduced value of 100,000 pounds, is considered appropriate,” the government’s Internal Audit Agency said.

Hacker House originally sought a grant of 273,000 pounds to find ways to train and place candidates into cyber security roles, the agency said.

“This review has not considered wider issues surrounding Hacker House Ltd and its representatives that have been reported in the media,” it said.

The Sunday Times reported in September that when Johnson was mayor of London he failed to declare close personal links to Arcuri, who received thousands of pounds in public business funding and places on official trade trips.

The Greater London Authority (GLA) has referred Johnson to Britain’s police watchdog for potential investigation over allegations of misconduct involving Arcuri.

Johnson has said everything was done with full propriety and that there was no interest to declare.

Arcuri has refused to answer questions about whether she had an intimate relationship with Johnson when he was mayor of London and has described him as a friend.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Grant McCool

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