Entertainment Celebrity Carrie Symonds: Terrifying past ordeal of the UK’s mysterious First Girlfriend

Carrie Symonds: Terrifying past ordeal of the UK’s mysterious First Girlfriend

New Prime Minister Boris Johnson's partner Carrie Symonds waits for him to make a speech outside 10 Downing Street. Photo: Getty
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The first time most people heard about Carrie Symonds was when she and her boyfriend Boris Johnson’s June 20 fight – shouts of “get off me” and a wine-soaked couch, as the story goes – at her London flat became public fodder.

Just over a month later, Ms Symonds is back in the headlines and headlights as the UK’s first ever ‘First Girlfriend’, apart from Hugh Grant’s tea lady paramour in Love, Actually.

But the former PR guru also put herself in the public eye in 2017 when she campaigned for a convicted serial rapist not to be freed, after admitting she was one of his past victims.

That terrifying incident happened years before Ms Symonds and the new UK Prime Minister started their on-off living arrangement.

He was, and still is, married to lawyer Marina Wheeler, the mother of four of his five children.

Boris Johnson Marina Wheeler
Mr Johnson with Marina Wheeler when he stood for selection as an MP in 2014. Photo: Getty

To The Sun, Ms Symonds is ‘BoJo’s Babe’, but she is also an astute political maven who in 2018 was named the second most influential person in UK political communications by PR Week.

She might need those skills to navigate what The New York Times called “an unsettled domestic situation unique in the annals of modern-day prime ministerial politics”.

While Mr Johnson and Ms Symonds settled last week on a $2.3 million four-storey London home, he also has 10 Downing Street to move into and reports claim his girlfriend will be unpacking bags too.

“She might not go in through the front door but she’ll be in the building, no doubt about it,” a source told The Sun.

But Ms Symonds, a senior adviser at environmental group Oceana, won’t be by Mr Johnson’s side when he takes the keys to Downing Street or meets Queen Elizabeth in his new role.

She has “no desire to put herself in front of the cameras”, friends said, even though she is a former Conservative Party communications director.

Carrie Symonds
Ms Symonds in London. Photo: Getty

Ms Symonds’ Instagram account is private and photo libraries have few shots of her, although in the past week a candid image of her in a denim bustier on a yacht emerged.

So who is the woman credited with steering Johnson towards veganism, and getting him to change his hair and start wearing clothes that don’t look like he’s slept in them?

The daughter of Matthew Symonds, a 1986 founding editor at The Independent, and lawyer Josephine McAfee – who were both married to other people –  she went to the $35,000-a-year Godolphin School which also counts Nigella Lawson and Kate Beckinsale as past pupils.

As a 19-year-old university student in 2007, Ms Symonds was waiting at a West London bus stop when she was offered a lift in a taxi by notorious sex offender John Worboys, who bribed his victims with spiked drinks before assaulting them.

She accepted a vodka shot from him for £50 ($89) and a free lift, she told The Daily Telegraph in 2009: “I just wanted to get home. From that point on I can’t really remember what happened.”

Aged 20, she testified in court against Worboys.

“The worst thing is not having peace of mind. I’m 99.9 per cent sure that nothing happened to me, but I will never know,” she has said.

Last year, waiving her right to anonymity, Ms Symonds campaigned successfully to stop Worboys’ release from prison, where he had spent 10 years for assaults on 12 women.

Despite her ordeal, she graduated from university with a degree in theatre studies. She made it to the final casting for a supporting role in Keira Knightley’s 2007 Atonement but abandoned the idea of an acting career to join Conservative HQ as a press officer.

In 2012 Ms Symonds helped Mr Johnson in his campaign to be re-elected as London mayor and in June 2017 became Conservative communications chief.

Carrie Symonds Boris Johnson 2018
Ms Symonds and Mr Johnson at a Conservative party ball in February 2018. Photo: Getty

He was at her 30th birthday party in March 2018, a few weeks after they had a Valentine’s Day dinner at a Covent Garden restaurant and six months before he announced his split from Ms Wheeler.

Now, Mr Johnson is trying to speed up his divorce so he can “move on” with his new love, the Daily Mirror said.

Added The Sun, the new PM could be the first “to wed while serving in Downing Street for 250 years”.

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