"Fake news" says Downing Street but Perugia airport officials insist otherwise.
Did Boris Johnson secretly travel to Italy earlier this month, spending a weekend in Umbria, as reported in Italian media?
Downing Street has denied the claim categorically, describing it as "absolutely fake news."
However authorities at Perugia airport say otherwise, as do eye-witness accounts by airport workers, according to an exclusive report by Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The report, written in English and titled The mystery of Boris Johnson's trip to Umbria, was published last night.
The story centres around claims that the British premier landed at Perugia airport on Friday 11 September at around 14.00, and departed from Umbria the following Monday morning.
The story came about following the arrival of Barcelona footballer Luis Suarez in Perugia, where he was greeted by cheering fans, on 17 September.
Subsequently, Perugia airport issued a statement boasting that Suarez wasn't the only celebrity to pass through its doors in recent days, before listing Johnson who was preceded a few days earlier by former UK premier Tony Blair.
La Repubblica points out that Johnson is no stranger to Perugia where in the past he has visited his close friend Evgeny Lebedev, the Russian-British businessman and editor of London newspaper Evening Standard, who is known for throwing lavish parties at his Palazzo Terranova residence in Umbria.
On 28 April 2018, when Johnson was serving as foreign minister in Theresa May's government, he flew to and from Perugia airport, unescorted by security, and was photographed looking tired and "creased" on his way home the next day.
As for the latest alleged trip, a spokesperson for Perugia airport insisted to La Repubblica that both "Johnson and Blair were here in Perugia last week."
In addition to the flat denial from Number 10, La Repubblica reached out to Lord Lebedev, recently handed a peerage by Johnson, but he was unavailable for comment.
Photo credit: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock.com.
View on Map
Did Boris Johnson make a secret trip to Italy?
Via dell'Aeroporto, snc, 06134 Perugia PG, Italy