Boris Johnson prosecution bid ‘vexatious’, High Court told

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Boris Johnson is challenging a bid to prosecute him over claims made during the EU referendum (PA)

An attempt to prosecute Boris Johnson over claims he made during the referendum campaign that the UK sent £350 million a week to the EU is “politically motivated and vexatious”, the High Court has heard.

The former foreign secretary is challenging a summons for him to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where campaigner Marcus Ball is attempting to prosecute him for three allegations of misconduct in public office.

Mr Johnson’s lawyers told Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Supperstone, who are hearing the case, that the judge who issued the summons “erred in law” when reaching her decision.

They also argued the attempt to prosecute the MP is the culmination of a “politically-driven process”.

Marcus Ball
Marcus Ball has brought the case against the former foreign secretary (PA)

Adrian Darbishire QC, for Mr Johnson, said: “The only rational conclusion which could be reached (by the judge) was that the prosecution was politically motivated and, therefore, vexatious.”

Mr Johnson does not have to appear and is not attending the current hearing.

Mr Ball, 29, claims Mr Johnson lied during the 2016 referendum campaign by saying Britain gave £350 million a week to the European Union.

He has crowdfunded more than £300,000 through an online campaign to bring the prosecution.

Speaking to reporters before the hearing, Mr Ball said: “I’ve spent three years of my life working ridiculous hours for, per hour I believe, the minimum wage to bring this case because I believe in the merits of it.

Boris Johnson
The £350 million claim was written on the side of Mr Johnson’s battle bus (PA)

“Somebody who was doing this to create a stunt would not act like that.”

In a written decision on May 29, District Judge Margot Coleman said she was satisfied there was a proper case to issue a summons.

The £350 million figure was emblazoned on the red campaign bus used by Vote Leave during the referendum, with the slogan saying “We send the EU £350 million a week, let’s fund our NHS instead”.

The hearing continues.

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