Private prosecution allowed
Johnson to face trial over claim of Brexit ‘misconduct’
Boris Johnson: denies the accusations made against him
Boris Johnson’s chances of succeeding Theresa May in Number Ten have taken a hit after he was ordered to appear in court over claims that he lied during the EU referendum campaign in 2016.
The former Foreign Secretary, who is seen as favourite to become the next Tory leader and Prime Minister, has been accused of misconduct in public office by saying the UK gave the EU £350m a week.
Campaigner Marcus Ball, 29, raised £200,000 through crowdfunding for a private prosecution of Mr Johnson who will appear at a preliminary hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court before being sent to the Crown Court for trial.
Mr Johnson’s representatives described the case as a “stunt” that is being “brought for political purposes”.
He faces three allegations of misconduct in public office, between 21 February 2016 and 23 June 2016 – after he had announced he was backing Leave, up until the referendum vote – and 18 April 2017 to 3 May 2017 – during the general election that year.
Lewis Power QC, who represents Mr Ball, said Mr Johnson’s conduct had been “both irresponsible and dishonest”.
In her written ruling, District Judge Margot Coleman threw out arguments by Mr Johnson’s legal team that the case was a “vexatious” attempt to undermine the result of the 2016 referendum.”
She said: “I accept that the public offices held by Mr Johnson provide status, but with that status comes influence and authority.
“I am satisfied there is sufficient to establish prima facie evidence of an issue to be determined at trial of this aspect.”
At the time of the alleged offences, Mr Johnson held public office as the mayor of London and MP for Uxbridge for South Ruislip. He denies misconduct in a public office, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.