LONDON — Jennifer Arcuri, an American businesswoman and former model who is at the center of inquiries dogging the new British prime minister, declined to answer — nine times — whether she had an affair with Boris Johnson while he served as mayor of London.
The story has been competing with Brexit headlines for a week in Britain, because Arcuri won sponsorship and grants from the British government while she was Johnson’s friend.
Arcuri has been described by British tabloids as Johnson’s former ‘‘technology adviser’’ and ‘‘the pole-dancing American tech entrepreneur . . . previously photographed draped in a Union Jack.’’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan launched an independent review into how Arcuri managed to accompany Johnson on government-sponsored trade missions in 2014 and 2015 to Singapore, Tel Aviv, and New York, and why the American won sponsorship from the city’s London & Partners promotional group when Johnson was mayor. Khan insisted that he has no interest in their relationship outside the use of public funds.
In her first broadcast interview since her ties to Johnson were reported, Arcuri told ITV’s ‘‘Good Morning Britain’’ show that when Johnson was London mayor, he visited her apartment in east London a ‘‘handful of times,’’ somewhere between five and 10.
‘‘We tried having drinks out in public or having lunch; it just became too much of a mob show, so I said: ‘You just have to come to my office,’ ’’ she explained.
Arcuri’s apartment also had a pole for dancing.
Arcuri was asked multiple times by the morning show host if she had a romantic relationship with Johnson. She declined to answer, saying, ‘‘Because the press have made me this objectified ex-model pole dancer, I am really not going to answer that question. I am not going to be putting myself in a position for you to weaponize my answer.’’
Arcuri did describe her relationship with Johnson as very close.
Asked if she loved Johnson, Arcuri said: ‘‘I care about him deeply as a friend, and we do share a very close bond, but I wish him well. I want him to be happy. I wish Carrie well. And I really do want him to focus on making Britain great again.’’
Carrie Symonds is Johnson’s partner, and the two live together at the prime minister’s official residence at 10 Downing St. Symonds, a former Conservative Party media aide and now a campaigner for preserving the oceans, is 31. Johnson is 55.
Johnson is in divorce proceedings with his second wife, Marina Wheeler, after 25 years of marriage. They have four children.
Johnson’s spokesman told reporters Monday that he had ‘‘nothing to add’’ to the interview. The prime minister said last week when asked about his dealings with Arcuri, ‘‘Everything was done entirely in the proper way.’’