BY TOBY PORTER
A pub’s owners are baffled at finding themselves caught in the crossfire after neighbours recorded Prime Ministerial favourite Boris Johnson having a row with his girlfriend.
The Camberwell Arms in Camberwell New Road says it’s been wrongly labelled as being owned by the people living in the same building as the Conservative MP and his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds.
The three friends who run the award-winning Camberwell Arms, yards from the flat in Brunswick Park, have no link to the couple’s neighbours, Eve Leigh, 34, and Tom Penn, 30, who made the recording.
It has already had two dinner bookings in the name of Boris Johnson and another to celebrate the UK leaving the EU on October 31.
The pub owner and head chef Michael said: “We don’t really understand how this happened but it led to a lot of traffic criticising us. We have no link to anyone in that area so we are baffled how it has come about.
“In this industry, we are very proud that our customers know us well and love what we do, but being singled out as a result of factually incorrect information can affect the attitude of people who do not know us, because we do not know his neighbours or have any association with them.
“Our Google star rating has been significantly reduced by bogus negative reviews.”
The pub has had 12 one-star reviews in the last 24 hours – compared to four- and five-star ratings previously.
One new one from a Stewart Johnson says: “Had no privacy with owners listening in to all we said whilst discussing their food.”
Another from Neal Wilson said: “My wife wouldn’t dare speak in case he pulls out his phone for a recording.”
A third from Boris 123 said: “Horrible food, undercooked, terrible service, eavesdropping owner.”
Other outlets have been hit less hard.
Bike rider Boris uses a cycle shop nearby and has popped into Maloko for a coffee a couple of times.
Owner Franklin Evagle said: “The people from Brunswick Park come in all the time and it is all anyone talks about. “There have been a lot of reporters in the area. “I think it is a positive thing for Camberwell – it means people will know more about the area. That is good for business.
“I don’t know why he does not live somewhere that’s more posh. He could have hid in Epping Forest. It has a good community feel here and people like to speak their minds. Maybe it’s tactical so he can be more a man of the people?”
But some business owners were shocked to find out he lived so close – the only other Premier to come from South London was John Major, who was raised in Brixton.
DVH Salon owner Margaret said: “I am in shock – this is not the sort of place where Prime Ministers live.
“Maybe he is here because it is cheap?” But other shops are looking forward to having the man who looks most likely to be the next Prime Minister as one of their customers.
Abdul Conteh, cousin of boxer John, who runs Leone Legal Services, said: “He has not come in to ask legal advice from me so far. “Nothing surprises me about Camberwell – it is a mixture of very big houses beside very poor ones.
“Harriet Harman lives close but I did not know about Boris. He is the sort of person you either love or hate but I hope he comes to visit and buys some of the plants my six-year-old son has grown to fund his university education.”
Johnson is facing questions from party members about the row his neighbours recorded. There was screaming, shouting and plate-smashing just after midnight on Saturday and neighbours called 999 over fears for Ms Symonds, 31.
In the recording, Mr Johnson can allegedly be heard refusing to leave the flat and telling his girlfriend to “get off my f***ing laptop” before a loud crash is heard.
Symonds worked for current Home Secretary Sajid Javid when he was communities minister and John Whittingdale, then culture secretary.
She was the Tory communications chief for eight years, working alongside Michael Gove and Amber Rudd, which led to her being named as the UK’s second most powerful public relations professional by PR Week magazine.
She now works at Bloomberg as PR for their Vibrant Oceans programme. She did not appear in public with him for the first time until this month. He is still married to Marina Wheeler, from whom he separated last year.
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