Fury has erupted after it emerged a police inquiry into Boris Johnson’s friendship with Jennifer Arcuri will be shelved until after the general election.
The independent police watchdog has delayed its announcement on whether the Prime Minister should face an investigation into possible criminal misconduct until after a new Government is voted in.
The decision caused anger among Westminster politicians and London assembly members who said it appeared a ruling had been “suppressed” to protect Mr Johnson from potentially damaging headlines during the campaign.
It is said the decision was made in a private meeting held before parliament was dissolved last week.
Officials from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) agreed not to announce whether they were going to investigate “possible criminality” over allegations about a conflict of interest in Johnson’s dealings while mayor of London with the American technology entrepreneur until after the election, the Observer reported.
Sources close to the investigation claim the watchdog was on the verge of announcing its decision on whether it was proceeding with a criminal investigation.
The IOPC was tasked by the Greater London Authority to establish whether criminal charges should be brought because of the then-mayor’s responsibility for London’s policing.
It is alleged Ms Arcuri received favourable treatment due to her friendship with Mr Johnson, including receiving large sums of public money for her technology firms.
The offence of misconduct in public office carries a maximum term of life imprisonment.
Mr Johnson has denied any impropriety.
Jon Trickett, shadow Cabinet Office minister, said: “This is incredible. It’s a suppression of information which the public is entitled to have.
“Given the fact we’re in a general election there should be maximum transparency.”
He added: “This decision must be reversed immediately.”
Caroline Pidgeon, a Lib Dem member of the London assembly’s oversight committee, said the delay raised the possibility of Downing Street contact with the IOPC before its decision.
“It raises questions over how independent the IOPC really is and whether the prime minister’s lawyers have been exerting undue pressure,” she said.