Norwich man gets Boris Johnson to face court over ‘lies’ in EU referendum campaign
- Credit: PA
A Norfolk man has succeeded in getting Boris Johnson summonsed to court for allegedly lying in the EU referendum campaign.
Marcus Ball from Norwich has prepared a private prosecution against former Mayor of London Mr Johnson for misconduct in public office, relating to the now infamous claim that leaving the EU could save the UK £350m a week.
Lawyers representing Mr Ball lodged an application to summons Mr Johnson to court, claiming he had deliberately misled the public during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 and then repeated the statement during the 2017 general election.
Mr Ball has raised more than £200,000 through a "Brexit Justice" crowdfunding campaign to pay for the private prosecution.
Following a private hearing earlier this month and a public hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court last week, it has been decided that Mr Johnson should be brought to court over the accusations.
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In a written decision, District Judge Margot Coleman said Mr Johnson will be summonsed on three offences alleging misconduct in a public office.
The charges are indictable only, which means they must be dealt with in a crown court.
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She wrote: "The allegations which have been made are unproven accusations and I do not make any findings of fact.
"Having considered all the relevant factors I am satisfied that this is a proper case to issue the summons as requested for the three offences as drafted. The charges are indictable only.
"This means the proposed defendant will be required to attend this court for a preliminary hearing, and the case will then be sent to the crown court for trial."
The ruling said that, although there is no obligation on the court to give written reasons why an application for a summons is granted or refused, "this is an unusual and exceptional application with a considerable public interest and it is right that full reasons are provided to the unsuccessful party".
Mr Johnson's position was outlined in the ruling, describing the application as a "(political) stunt" and claiming that the "Brexit Justice" campaign was seeking to frustrate the Brexit process.
His position in summary said: "This application is brought for political purposes. The position presented to the court is that this is a disinterested attempt to improve the standards of political debate.
"The reality of this enterprise is different. The 'prosecutor' (a limited company) is 'Brexit Justice Limited'. Brexit Justice Limited is the product of a campaign to undermine the result of the Brexit referendum, and/or to prevent its consequences.
"The company and this application owe their existence to the desire on the part of individuals such as Mr Ball to undermine the referendum result. The 'Brexit justice' which is ultimately sought is no Brexit."