Keith Perry and Ryan Mansield – The Mirror Sept 21, 2020
Downing Street last night hit back at claims Boris Johnson flew abroad to Perugia, in Italy, while the UK was reeling from warnings that a coronavirus second wave is imminent.
The Prime Minister has been accused of travelling to Italy during the weekend of September 12 and 13 – a claim denied as “totally untrue” by No10.
An official statement from the local airport in Perugia, from September 17, claims that Mr Johnson was in the historic city “over the past few days”.
Italian newspaper La Repubblica and publication Umbria24 claim airport sources told them that Mr Johnson “travelled to Perugia” and he landed in Perugia “on Friday, September 11, at 2pm”.
La Repubblica added a Number 10 spokesman said: “This claim is wrong.”
Media tycoon Evgeny Lebedev has a castle in Perugia where Mr Johnson has been a guest.
For Lebedev’s weekend parties at his restored mansion in the Italian city, guests were often flown from London on private jets.
Mr Johnson is reported to have gone at least four times.
On one visit he had allegedly been a guest alongside model and TV personality Katie Price.
After another visit, while serving as foreign secretary, he refused to answer questions from The Guardian about whether he had kept his security detail while in the castle.
A picture of a dishevelled Mr Johnson had been provided to the newspaper by a member of the public.
The Perugia airport’s statement listed other “names and personalities from the political, sporting and economic world” who had arrived around the time of the PM’s alleged trip.
These include Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Barcelona footballer Luis Suarez.
The latter is said to have taken an Italian language exam at the University for Foreigners of Perugia as part of a process to be granted an Italian passport.
The gushing statement added many travellers are currently using the airport “thanks to its strategic position in the centre of Italy, the speed of connection and the always punctual and efficient service that the airport is able to guarantee”.
One airport source claims Mr Johnson was due to leave on September 14 at 7.45am – though it is said the flight was delayed, while Mr Blair was in Perugia from September 8 to 11.
Prior to his apparent flight, the PM is understood to have been working in Downing Street on September 11.
While later that day he is said to have had a Zoom call with 256 Tory MPs about Brexit, during which his internet connection reportedly cut off for 20 minutes, reports La Repubblica.
According to website Flightradar24, Mr Johnson’s alleged return flight back to the UK would have taken off at 8.27am in a Embraer Legacy 500 jet and landed at 9.39am at RAF Northolt, in his constituency in Ruislip, west London.
Earlier reports suggested the PM and fiancee Carrie Symonds held a top-secret christening for their son Wilfred on Saturday, September 12 – when he is now alleged to have been in Italy.
The PM is a long-time friend of Russian-British businessman Lebedev, 60, with the Tory leader’s last visit seeing him travel without security two months after the novichok poisoning in Salisbury in 2018.
Photos showed him on April 29 at San Francesco d’Assisi Airport looking exhausted and with his crumpled shirt out of his trousers before a flight back to London Stansted.
Italy is currently on Britain’s travel corridor safe list, while the country is allowing visitors to enter as long as they follow guidelines.
And despite neighbours France and Spain seeing surges of up to 10,000 coronavirus cases a day, Italy is far more stable with around 1,500 confirmed daily.
According to the European Centre for Disease Protection and Control (ECDC), the number of new cases as a percentage per 100,000 inhabitants is just 33.