Businessman begins private prosecution against Boris Johnson over referendum claim that Britain sends the EU £350m every week which should be spent on NHS
- Marcus Ball, 29, claims Mr Johnson committed misconduct while in public office
- He appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today to start a new private case
- There will be another hearing on May 23 to consider a summons for Mr Johnson
A businessman has begun his private case against Boris Johnson claiming he misled the public with his Brexit vote claim that Britain sends the EU £350m per week.
Marcus Ball, 29, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court this afternoon to start the private case against Mr Johnson for allegedly abusing public trust during the EU referendum campaign.
He 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.
Marcus Ball with supporters outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London today, where he has brought a case against Boris Johnson for intentionally misleading the public during the referendum
Marcus Ball (left) with his solicitor Giles Bright (right). He alleges that the former foreign secretary committed misconduct in public office
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.
Mr Ball, a start-up company entrepreneur from Norfolk, attended today’s private hearing dressed in a smart navy blue suit.
His barristers, Lewis Power QC, Colin Witcher and Anthony Eskander were also present while Adrian Darbishire, QC, attended, representing Mr Johnson.
District Judge Margot Coleman asked for the courtroom to be cleared and said: ‘This is a private hearing, nobody has been arrested, nobody has been charged or nobody has been interviewed.
‘Next week’s hearing would be ordinarily be heard in private as well, but because it is a very usual and exceptional and there is a huge public interest case I have taken the view there should be a public hearing.’
Mr Ball claims Mr Johnson endorsed and made statements which he knew to be false at a time when he was mayor of London and an MP
Mr Johnson was a key player in the Vote Leave campaign. He is pictured next to a bus claiming Britain sends the EU £350 million a week
Speaking after the hearing, Giles Bright, Mr Ball’s solicitor, said: ‘The court has determined that a public hearing will take place on Thursday May 23 at this court.
‘At this the judge will consider the application to issue a summons against the proposed defendant, Mr Boris Johnson MP, for the offence of misconduct in a public office.’
While Mr Ball said after the hearing: ‘We wish to stress again Mr Johnson has not been charged of any criminal offence and is at all times innocent until proven otherwise.
‘We will respectfully ask that all those reporting and those supporting to respect the formality of the court.’
Speaking before the hearing, he had said: ‘This is a purely legal case, it is not about political point-scoring. And we must remember he is innocent until proven guilty.’
There will be another hearing on May 23 to determine whether the case will go ahead, Mr Ball said today
In a tweet posted to his 13,000 followers before he headed into court, Mr Ball said: ‘Today is the first day, after almost 3 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 Mr Ball’s case was heard.
They were joined for a brief moment by self-styled Boris Johnson lookalike Drew Galdron – but the 35-year-old left a short time later after Mr Ball’s supporters said the ‘stunt would muddy the waters’ and distract attention from their cause.
Before the hearing, Mr 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.’
Mr Ball previously said he raised more than £370,000 across several crowdfunding campaigns to finance the case, but he declined to provide an update outside court.
There will be another hearing on May 23 to determine whether the case will go ahead.
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