Boris Johnson will not face prosecution over £350m EU claim after court victory

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Boris Johnson (PA/Stefan Rousseau)

Boris Johnson will not face a criminal prosecution over claims he made during the referendum campaign about the UK sending £350 million a week to the EU after winning a High Court challenge.

The former foreign secretary challenged a decision to issue a summons, made by District Judge Margot Coleman on May 29, for him to attend Westminster Magistrates’ Court to face three allegations of misconduct in public office.

But, following a hearing in London on Friday, Lady Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Supperstone overturned the earlier decision.

Lady Justice Rafferty told Mr Johnson’s barrister, Adrian Darbishire QC, that Judge Coleman’s decision to issue the summons would be quashed, meaning the legal action against Mr Johnson will not proceed.

The judge said reasons for the court’s ruling will be given at a later date.

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

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

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

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”.

Mr Darbishire argued that the attempt to prosecute Mr Johnson was “politically motivated and vexatious”.

Mr Johnson, who is currently the front runner in the Conservative party leadership contest, did not have to appear and did not attend the High Court hearing.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said he would not be commenting on the case.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid wrote on Twitter: “Very glad to see the court case against Boris Johnson thrown out.

“Freedom of speech feels increasingly challenged – we should always seek to debate political arguments in the open rather than close them down.”

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice after the hearing, Mr Ball said he would consider his next steps after the court gives reasons for its decision.

He added: “We have just given the green light for every politician to lie to us about our money forever. That is a terrifying idea.”

Asked if he had a message for Mr Johnson, Mr Ball said: “You don’t have the right to lie to the public about how their money is being spent.”

He added: “I would ask you, please, all members of Parliament, all elected representatives, understand: you cannot lie to the public about their money.”

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