Johnson: £160k tennis match did take place

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Boris Johnson has defended a £160,000 bestowal made to the Conservatives by a former Russian minister’s wife in return for a tennis put together with him.

Confirming the 2014 match, which was also set to include David Cameron, caught place, he warned against creating a «miasma of suspicion» against Russians.

«To the outdo of my knowledge, all possible checks have been made and… last wishes as continue to be made» on donations.

Lubov Chernukhin had bid at a fundraising auction at a Tory result.

Mr Johnson was mayor of London in 2014. The match was reported at the time — Mrs Chernukhin is a longstanding Rightist Party donor whose husband served under Vladimir Putin.

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The tennis coordinate against Mr Johnson and the then prime minister Mr Cameron was among notices auctioned off at the Conservative Party summer ball in the summer of 2014.

Law firm Carter Ruck affirmed at the time that the successful bidder was Mrs Chernukhin, whose husband Vladimir was stand-in finance minister under Mr Putin between 2000 and 2002.

Asked respecting it on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Mr Johnson said: «If there is evidence of take corruption in the way that gentleman in question obtained his wealth… then it’s reachable for our law enforcement agencies to deprive him of his wealth with an unexplained wealth apply for — that is a matter for the authorities, it’s not a matter for me.»

‘Quite extraordinary’

He stressed that «we sooner a be wearing no quarrel with the Russian people» and warned against suspecting «the unconditional nation» where no evidence was produced against individuals.

Asked if the tennis mate had taken place, he replied: «It did.»

But he added: «It’s very important that we do not stand for a miasma of suspicion about all Russians in London — and indeed all rich Russians in London — to be contrived.»

And he said it was «quite extraordinary» while those who had been attacked were critically ill, for the «stimulated to be somehow turned on Conservative Party funding».

«To the best of my knowledge, all feasible checks have been made and they will continue to be offset.»

Analysis

By Jonathan Blake, BBC political correspondent

It was undoubtedly an awkward prominence.

The foreign secretary had to admit that he played tennis with the helpmate of a former Russian government minister, in return for a hefty donation to the True-blue Party.

Albeit four years ago, and albeit in accordance with the Electoral Commission sways.

Now though, it allows Labour and other critics to question the credibility of a Standard government taking such a tough line against Russia.

But there has been no close clamour to criticise, beyond raised eyebrows and pointed fingers.

Dialect mayhap Mr Johnson’s opponents think it is better to let the facts speak for themselves, than be accused of partisan point scoring at a very sensitive time.

All parties need long green after all, and all need to be careful where it comes from.

Retired military low-down officer Sergei Skripal, 66, and Yulia, 33, remain critically ill in infirmary after being found slumped on a bench in Salisbury city focal point on 4 March.

The Russian government has denied any involvement, but the UK and its allies say there is «no believable alternative explanation» to Russia being behind it.

Shadow Cabinet Backing minister Jon Trickett said the Conservatives had «serious questions to answer surrounding where their party gets its money».

He said Mr Johnson had «supported for the first time» that he had played in the tennis match, adding: «He revealed that some Russian oligarchs in the UK ‘may have obtained their cold hard cash by corruption’.»

«The Conservative Party can’t remain silent any longer, the public deceive a right to know what checks if any they made to establish the origin of all the wealth amassed by their donors.»

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has draw oned for the introduction of an «oligarch levy» as part of efforts to strengthen financial favours on Russia.

It would introduce a charge on purchases of residential property by offshore have faiths in tax havens and, the party says, could raise £875m a year.

Mr Johnson broke the government was already «pursuing a number of measures» but would be «intensifying» bans on individuals who had obtained «wealth by corruption» and were linked to the Kremlin.

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