Perugia airport boss claims his staff mixed up Boris Johnson with Tony Blair and says PM WASN’T on secret trip to Italy
- President of the airport set the record straight this afternoon after No10 denial
- Article published last night by La Repubblica carried statement from the airport
- Number 10 rubbished the version of events as ‘completely untrue’ today
Perugia Airport has retracted its claim Boris Johnson flew into Italy earlier this month – and said staff had him muddled with Tony Blair.
The president of the airport set the record straight this afternoon hours after Downing Street first issued a robust denial of the story.
An article published last night by La Repubblica carried a statement from the airport which said Mr Johnson had passed through ‘in the last few days’.
It was accompanied by a quote from an airport source, saying he landed on Friday, September 11 at 2pm.
Number 10 rubbished the version of events as ‘completely untrue’ and insisted the Prime Minister had not travelled to Italy in recent months.
Perugia Airport’s president has now told the Daily Telegraph Mr Johnson was ‘definitely’ not at the airport and staff mistook him for ex-Labour PM Mr Blair.
Perugia Airport has retracted its claim Boris Johnson flew into Italy earlier this month – and said staff had him muddled with Tony Blair
The president of the airport (pictured) set the record straight this afternoon hours after Downing Street first issued a robust denial of the story.
The president also explained that the airport worker mistook a ‘private citizen’ arriving from Farnborough in Hampshire as the Prime Minister.
However after checking their registry and liaising with police, the airport found that while there was a private flight from Farnborough that had landed on September 12, the one passenger was ‘a private citizen and not Boris Johnson.’
The withdrawal draws a line under a mystery that had Westminster puzzled.
On the Friday he was claimed to be in Italy, Mr Johnson was faced with MPs preparing to rebel on his international law-breaking Brexit legislation and rising numbers of coronavirus infections across the UK.
The PM and fiancee Carrie Symonds also reportedly baptised son Wilfred that weekend, it was claimed last week.
Mr Johnson has reportedly travelled to the airport before to visit his friend Evgeny Lebedev, owner of the Evening Standard, at his medieval castle.
Russian-born Mr Lebedev, whose father is a former KGB operative, is known for hosting lavish parties for celebrity guests at the Castello di Santa Eurasia.
According to one report Mr Johnson worked from Downing Street on the day in question and took part in a Zoom call with 256 Tory MPs on Brexit.
Mr Johnson had tried to give a patriotic rallying cry to encourage his colleagues to back his controversial plans for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
One source said that Mr Johnson’s connection had cut out during the call and when he came back on he joked that he should probably invest in super-fast internet, Politics Home reported.
Lebedev, 41, who owns the Evening Standard newspaper and is frequently seen mixing in the upper echelons of the celebrity social scene, owns the breathtaking Castello di Santa Eurasia
Russian-born Mr Lebedev, whose father is a former KGB operative, is known for hosting lavish parties for his celebrity friends at the Castello di Santa Eurasia
Last year it was reported that Mr Johnson, during his time as Foreign Secretary, had been spotted at Perugia’s airport looking dishevelled ‘in last night’s clothes.’
A fellow passenger told The Guardian that Mr Johnson appeared to be stumbling around and at one point looked as if he might vomit.
There was silence from Mr Johnson’s communications staff when those reports emerged last year.
Last month, Mr Johnson nominated Mr Lebedev for a life peerage for his services to the media industry and his philanthropic work.
A Downing Street spokesperson had said: ‘This story is completely untrue. The Prime Minister has not travelled to Italy in recent months. Anyone who publishes these claims is repeating a falsehood.’
MailOnline has contacted Tony Blair’s office.