Boris Johnson receives warning he faces prosecution over £350m claim

PUBLISHED: 15:11 23 November 2018 | UPDATED: 15:27 23 November 2018

Boris Johnson has been warned he faces private prosecution over his claim that the UK sends £350 million a week to Brussels. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Boris Johnson has been warned he faces private prosecution over his claim that the UK sends £350 million a week to Brussels. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Boris Johnson has been warned he faces private prosecution over his “£350m a week” claim that was used throughout the EU referendum campaign.

Private prosecutor Marcus Ball said he notified the former foreign secretary on Saturday of his intention to bring a court case over alleged misconduct in public office.

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Backed by around £300,000 raised through crowdfunding appeals, and with the support of a team of lawyers, he now intends to lay an information at a magistrates court early in the new year.

It is understood magistrates would then have to determine whether to allow the case to go ahead.

As reported by this newspaper in September, Mr Ball has spent two years preparing the case and raising finance, and has instructed solicitors Bankside Commercial to bring a prosecution on his behalf. They have retained the services of Lewis Power QC and two other barristers from Church Court Chambers to handle the case.

Asked if he is mounting the case in a bid to prevent Britain leaving the EU, Mr Ball said: “This is about stopping lying in politics; this is not about stopping Brexit, the courts do not have the power to do that.

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“We do need to stop politicians from lying in any future referendums though. The motivation for this prosecution is a desire to bring a beginning to the end of lying in politics.”

A spokesman for Boris Johnson declined to comment.

The former foreign secretary has repeatedly stood by the £350 million figure used by the Vote Leave campaign during the referendum, which he says represented the UK’s weekly gross contribution to EU budgets.

A study by King’s College London found that half of the UK still believes the claim.

Lewis Power QC said Ball’s legal team are “duty bound not to comment upon the guilt or innocence of Mr Johnson as this is a decision that can only be made within a court of law”.

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