Boris Johnson to receive court summons over £350 million Brexit campaign claim

Boris Johnson before he boards the Vote Leave campaign bus in Truro, Cornwall. Photograph: Stefan Ro

Boris Johnson before he boards the Vote Leave campaign bus in Truro, Cornwall. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Boris Johnson will be summoned to court in a prosecution over claims that the '£350 million to the NHS' slogan on the side of a Leave campaign bus was a lie.

Private prosecutor Marcus J Ball. Photograph: Supplied.

Private prosecutor Marcus J Ball. Photograph: Supplied. - Credit: Archant

The private prosecution, brought by Marcus Ball, lodged an application at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Lawyers representing Ball lodged an application to summons 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.

District judge Margot Coleman ruled that this is a "proper case" for issuing a summons on indictable-only charges.

She said: "The allegations which have been made are unproven accusations and I do not make any findings of fact.

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"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."

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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".

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.

READ: Judge set to decide whether to summon Boris Johnson to face prosecution over £350m-a-week claim

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."

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