Judge who threw out court case against Boris Johnson ‘failed to declare conflict of interest’

PUBLISHED: 09:56 21 December 2019 | UPDATED: 09:56 21 December 2019

Boris Johnson speaks at a rally with Priti Patel and Michael Gove (right) in front of the Vote Leave bus. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Boris Johnson speaks at a rally with Priti Patel and Michael Gove (right) in front of the Vote Leave bus. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

A judge who ruled that Boris Johnson should not face trial over lying during the EU referendum failed to declare a possible conflict of interest.

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The prime minister received a summons earlier this year urging him to attend court to explain his false claims made during the EU referendum after a private prosecutor raised the case over lies told during the June 2016 campaign.

But when Johnson's legal team appealed the decision in the High Court in June the case brought by private prosecutor Marcus Ball against the Vote Leave leader was shut down.

Now it has been revealed that Michael Supperstone QC, one of the judges to shut the case down, is a member of the Garrick gentleman's club along with Boris Johnson's father and fellow Vote Leave co-conveyor Michael Gove, who also parroted the £350 million claim.

Ball also has since discovered that in 2008 when Johnson was mayor of London the judge received £35,500 from the Greater London Authority for 'consultancy' services. Johnson went on to quote the judge in a speech that year.

Private prosecutor Ball has now complained to the Judicial Complaints Investigations Organisation and is awaiting a decision - due in the spring.

Ball is also persuiing a complaint about Lady Justice Rafferty who was also on the high court panel that overturned the case. It has been claimed that her husband Brian Barker QC had worked for government minister and Vote Leave campaigner Theresa Villiers.

Barker received £848 a day from Villiers' office while working as chairman of the Northern Ireland Committee, and consequently Ball believes that Rafferty's household benefited.

Throwing out the case earlier this year Rafferty said misleading information in political campaigning was not new, and it was not for the courts to deal with "false campaign statements".

Ball is now continuing with his work as part of his bid to hold politicians to account for claims they make during campaigns.

He said: "I've spent over three years of my life working hard to ensure that elected public office holders are legally required to be honest with the public.

"I am astounded that I have had to work so hard for several months to ensure that judicial public office holders are forced to do the same.

"I request that these judges recuse themselves immediately and cooperate fully with the JCIO for the purposes of this complaint. For the time being my faith in the judiciary has been reduced to almost nothing."

A JCIO spokesman confirmed "it has received a complaint in connection with Mr Justice Supperstone and Lady Justice Rafferty. Complaints to the JCIO are considered under the regulations."

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