Brexiteer friends of Boris Johnson have criticised a court case which could see Boris Johnson prosecuted for misleading claims made about the EU, made during the referendum campaign.
A district judge has ruled that Boris Johnson had a case to make in court, and issued a summons ruling for the Tory leadership hopeful to attend to respond to the claims.
Lawyers acting on behalf of campaigner Marcus Ball said the politician had deliberately misled the public during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 and then repeated the statement during the 2017 general election.
A source close to Johnson attempted to frame the court case as “nothing less than a politically motivated attempt to reverse Brexit and crush the will of the people”.
“The claimant has openly admitted that his plan is to overturn the referendum via a legal challenge and he clearly intends to try and undermine the one man who can truly deliver Brexit.
“The decision to issue a summons is extraordinary, and flies in the face of hundreds of years of British democratic tradition.”
The decision to summons the former foreign secretary was criticised by Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg, who said it was a “troubling” abuse of process.
He told the Press Association: “It is trying to use the courts to achieve a political end which, I think, is neither right or proper. This is involving the courts in something that is not their area.
“We need courts and politicians to respect each other, and it is an abuse of process, and a troubling one. It has been brought by people who are resentful of the referendum result.”
And Conservative former cabinet minister and barrister David Mellor said the ruling was a “deplorable absurdity”, and that courts should not adjudicate on what politicians do during election campaigns.
“I imagine there will be no shortage of senior judges who will feel acutely embarrassed about this.”
“Politicians at election times exaggerate, and say things that may or may not be true, and it’s the electorate, not the courts, who should decide whether they are reliable or not.
“This is a bad day for British justice. But probably, contrary to the wishes of those who have crowdfunded this nonsense, a big boost to Boris. Is that what they really intended? Nutty, nutty, nutty.”
Health secretary Matt Hancock, who is also vying for the top job, said: “However people voted in the referendum, we shouldn’t have courts judging on political debates.
“Let’s have robust debate to test arguments – and keep courts out of politics.”
Alan Sugar, a crossbench peer and leading businessman, however reiterated his calls for the leading Brexiteers behind the Leave campaign to be prosecuted.
He tweeted: “Britain is going to leave the European Union, which in my opinion will place the country in a disastrous state.
“Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are liars and should be criminally prosecuted.
Regrettably, however, the laws which apply to businessmen do not apply to these slippery politicians.”