Tuesday, July 16

Johnson faces fresh court action over Brexit lies



Boris Johnson is facing fresh legal action for allegedly “lying and misleading the British public” during the EU referendum campaign.

A man who crowdfunded a private prosecution against the now prime minister is attempting to take the legal battle to the Supreme Court after losing the latest stage.

A judge initially summonsed Mr Johnson to appear in court over accusations of misconduct in public office in May, but the Divisional Court overturned the ruling last month.

Marcus Ball, a 29-year-old entrepreneur who has so far raised £570,000 for the case, is now seeking permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

His lawyers have filed an application challenging the Divisional Court’s decision to quash the summons, arguing that judges were wrong to find that misconduct in public office laws could not be used for political campaign statements.

“We have grave concerns that public officers can now abuse their status and influence and to act in blatant disregard of the duties and obligations placed upon them, safe in the knowledge that no criminal consequences will follow,” Mr Ball said.

Mr Ball’s new application will be considered in due course.

“This case extends far beyond Mr Johnson … we believe that we have a duty to the public to ensure that the proper limits of the offence are defined.”

The attempted private prosecution started in February, when Mr Ball’s lawyers accused Mr Johnson of knowing Vote Leave’s claim that Britain sent the EU £350m a week was false and used the figure to “mislead” the public.

The figure was emblazoned on the red campaign bus during the 2016 EU referendum, with the slogan: “We send the EU £350m a week, let’s fund our NHS instead.”

Mr Johnson’s lawyers had also claimed the case was “motivated by a political objective” to undermine the result of the EU referendum.

High Court judges said Mr Ball had deleted large parts of his social media history but a previous crowdfunding website post discussed legal options to “prevent Brexit”, and he had called himself “pro-Remain”.