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Boris Johnson's neighbour defends decision to reveal 'row' to newspaper

Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson during the first party hustings at the ICC in Birmingham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday June 22, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Tories. Photo credit should read: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The neighbour who alerted police about the disturbance at the flat Boris Johnson shares with his partner Carrie Symonds has defended his actions.

Tom Penn said he "felt it was of important public interest" to tell The Guardian about events at the south London property in the early hours of Friday morning.

Mr Penn and his wife have found themselves under scrutiny amid fallout from the incident involving the favourite to become the next prime minister and his girlfriend.

According to reports, Mr Penn's wife tweeted about giving Mr Johnson "the finger" last weekend, although the tweet is no longer publicly available.

On Saturday, Brexit minister James Cleverly, a supporter of Mr Johnson, said that a "big element" of the story "isn't that there was a heated argument, it's that the police were called".

"The police were called by the same person who recorded Boris and gave the story to the Guardian," he tweeted.

In a statement reported by The Guardian, Mr Penn defended his decision to reveal details of the incident to the newspaper.

"Once clear that no-one was harmed, I contacted the Guardian, as I felt it was of important public interest," he said.

"I believe it is reasonable for someone who is likely to become our next prime minister to be held accountable for all of their words, actions and behaviours.

"I, along with a lot of my neighbours all across London, voted to remain within the EU. That is the extent of my involvement in politics.

"The unpleasant things being said about myself and my partner, and some quite frankly bizarre and fictitious allegations, have been upsetting for not only us, but also for family, friends and fellow Camberwell neighbours, who are currently being harangued by the media.

"I would ask that you leave private citizens alone and focus instead on those who have chosen to run for power within the public eye."

Scotland Yard said they were alerted to the situation by a caller who "was concerned for the welfare of a female neighbour".

The Guardian newspaper said it had heard a recording of the incident in which Mr Johnson could allegedly be heard saying "get off my f****** laptop" before a loud crashing noise.

At one point Ms Symonds was heard telling Mr Johnson to "get off me" and "get out of my flat", the newspaper reported.

Mr Penn said that he recorded the altercation within his own home.

"After a loud scream and banging, followed by silence, I ran upstairs, and with my wife agreed that we should check on our neighbours.

"I knocked three times at their front door, but there was no response. I went back upstairs into my flat, and we agreed that we should call the police.

"The police arrived within five minutes. Our call was made anonymously and no names were given to the police. They subsequently called back to thank us for reporting, and to let us know that nobody was harmed.

"To be clear, the recordings were of the noise within my own home. My sole concern up until this point was the welfare and safety of our neighbours. I hope that anybody would have done the same thing," he said.

MAIN PHOTO: Ben Birchall/PA Wire