The HuffPost UK
Boris Johnson’s ‘close friend’ Jennifer Arcuri suddenly changed her company’s UK registered address as MPs question whether the government should have given her a Â£ 100,000 taxpayer-funded grant .
The Hacker House address went from what appeared to be an indescribable apartment building in Macclesfield to a prime property on Fleet Street in London, as MPs investigated the conflict of interest allegations in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson told HuffPost UK that the change of address in Companies House records would set off “even more alarm bells” about the “mystery” of how the company received the money.
It comes after questions were raised as to whether the company was even eligible for the grant, which was aimed at “British” companies.
A report in Sunday Times said the address used to apply for the grant was a UK-based property that was no longer associated with Arcuri.
Responding to an urgent question in the Commons on Tuesday, Digital Minister Matt Warman insisted there was “no reason to believe there was anything untoward” about the grant, and said pointed out that the company “is a business with a UK telephone number”.
But on Wednesday, calls to the phone number were answered by a woman with an American accent who said she was based in California.
Watson said: ‘If there wasn’t enough mystery as to how this company ended up with Â£ 100,000 of government money, the sudden change of registered address will trigger even more doorbells. alarm.
âWe urgently need to know what the UK presence is for this company and how it came to acquire this huge government grant. “
The new London address of Hacker House is a ‘virtual office’ on Fleet Street above an M&S take-out food store in central London, half a mile from St Paul’s Cathedral.
Google Street View
Ned Simons / HuffPost UK
Ned Simons / HuffPost UK
He rents the space to Regus, a coworking company that rents offices or even a single mobile hot-desk by the hour, day or month.
Customers don’t need to physically use the building if they don’t want to – but can register there to receive mail delivery.
Hacker House was not on the handwritten tally of companies renting office space in the building. But it was listed on Regus computer systems.
The Department of Digital Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) is investigating the circumstances surrounding the grant.
Johnson said “everything was done with convenience” while mayor of London, and declined to clarify the nature of his relationship with Arcuri, and declined the opportunity to deny any allegations in the Sunday report. Times.
Arcuri, 34, told the Sunday Times in a statement: “All grants received by my companies and any trade missions I have been on were purely related to my role as a legitimate businesswoman.”
The newspaper reported that another Arcuri-owned company – Innotech – first received Â£ 10,000 in sponsorship from London & Partners, the mayor’s promotion agency, in 2013.
A further Â£ 15,000 was reportedly paid in 2014 as part of a government scheme designed to encourage foreign entrepreneurs in the UK.
Then his Hacker House business received a Â£ 100,000 cyber skills grant from DCMS earlier this year.
Hacker House has been contacted for comment.