First hearing of private prosecution of Boris Johnson over Brexit campaign £350million claim
PUBLISHED: 17:36 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 18:04 14 May 2019
The first stage of a private prosecution of Boris Johnson, over his part in the Vote Leave campaign's "£350 million" claim on the side of a bus, took place today.
Marcus Ball, 29, is bringing the private case against Mr Johnson for allegedly abusing public trust during the EU referendum campaign.
He appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court today for a behind-closed-doors legal hearing ahead of the case starting properly on May 23 - the date of the European Parliament elections.
Giles Bright, Ball's solicitor, said that at this hearing the judge will consider whether or not to issue a summons against Johnson.
Ball alleges that the former foreign secretary committed misconduct in public office by endorsing and making statements which he knew to be false at a time when he was mayor of London and an MP.
The allegation relates to the much-trumpeted claim by the Vote Leave campaign that the UK sends £350 million a week to the European Union, which was found to be misleading by the UK Statistics Authority.
Speaking before the hearing, Ball said: "This is a purely legal case, it is not about political point-scoring.
"And we must remember he is innocent until proven guilty."
In a tweet posted to his 13,000 followers before he headed into court, Mr Ball said: "Today is the first day, after almost three years of work, that our prosecution case against Mr Johnson MP is being heard in court."
More than 30 supporters gathered outside the court while Ball's case was heard.
Before the hearing, Ball said: "This case is a world first, it has never happened before.
"A member of parliament has never been prosecuted for misconduct in public office based upon alleged lying to the public.
"My backers and I aspire to set a precedent in the UK common law making it illegal for an elected representative to lie to the public about financial matters."
Ball has previously said he raised more than £370,000 across several crowdfunding campaigns to finance the case.