Perugia airport claims staff mixed up Boris Johnson with Tony Blair.
Boris Johson did not fly to Umbria for a secret weekend in Italy, according to Perugia airport which has revised its statement claiming that the British prime minister passed through its doors earlier this month.
It now appears that PR staff allegedly confused Johnson with former UK premier Tony Blair, despite the original press release, issued on 17 September, stating that both politicians had visited Perugia airport "in recent days".
The story began after the airport boasted about the number of celebrities it hosted recently, from Barcelona footballer Luis Suarez to Johnson and Blair.
The news was picked up by daily Italian newspaper La Repubblica, which quoted unnamed sources at the airport confirming that Johnson was there, arriving on 11 September and departing on 14 September, preceded a few days earlier by Blair.
The story led to a firm denial from Downing Street, which labelled it "absolutely fake news," pointing to the fact that the premier had attended his baby son Wilfred's baptism at Westminster Abbey on 12 September.
Yesterday afternoon, 21 September, the head of Perugia's S. Francesco d’Assisi airport said that there had been an “error” in the previous communication and that Johnson did not land there recently.
“He absolutely did not recently land in Perugia. In recent years, yes, he passed through, but not recently” - Stefano Panato told The Guardian - “I have checked the registries and spoken to people, this is the official denial.”
When the story broke it led to speculation that Johnson had visited his close friend Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian-British businessman and editor of The Evening Standard, who is known for throwing lavish parties at his residence in Umbria.
The story has also generated a frenzy of conspiracy theories on social media.
On 28 April 2018, when Johnson was serving as foreign minister in Theresa May's government, he flew to and from Perugia airport, apparently without a security escort, and was photographed looking dishevelled on his way home the next day.
Photo: The Telegraph
View on Map
Boris Johnson did not make secret trip to Italy: Perugia airport denies claim
Via dell'Aeroporto, snc, 06134 Perugia PG, Italy