Johnson to face court over £350m claim on Brexit bus

Home UK Johnson to face court over £350m claim on Brexit bus
Johnson to face court over £350m claim on Brexit bus

By Aubrey Allegretti, political reporter, and Rebecca Taylor, news reporter

Boris Johnson has been ordered to appear in court over claims he lied and misled the public by saying the UK sent the EU £350m a week.

The former Mayor of London faces accusations of misconduct in a public office over the claim, which he and other Vote Leave figures made during the 2016 EU referendum campaign.

Campaigner Marcus Ball brought a private prosecution against the former foreign secretary, saying he misled the public during the campaign and again at the 2017 general election.

Mr Ball, who denies he is trying to obstruct Brexit, managed to raise more than £200,000 for the private prosecution through an online crowdfunding campaign.

"Democracy demands responsible and honest leadership from those in public office," he said previously.

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"The conduct of the proposed defendant Boris Johnson was both irresponsible and dishonest. It was, we say, criminal."

He alleges Mr Johnson misrepresented the amount of money Britain sends the EU by using the £350m figure.

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"The UK has never sent, given or provided £350m a week to Europe – that statement is simply not ambiguous," Mr Ball said.

Image: MrJohnson campaigned with a bus which had the comments on the side

According to the Office for National Statistics, the UK's gross contribution to the EU totalled £18.9bn in 2016 – approximately £363m a week.

However, that sum was reduced to £13.9bn (£267m a week) after the application of the rebate won by Margaret Thatcher while she was prime minister in 1984. The rebate is applied before the UK's contribution is "sent" to the EU.

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The UK's contributions to the EU budget vary from year to year.

Mr Johnson has called the court application a "[political] stunt".

In his position read out to the court, he said: "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."

Boris Johnson
Image: The former foreign secretary denies any wrongdoing

Adrian Darbishire, Mr Johnson's lawyer said the statements were made for the purpose of a contested political campaign and came from "freely available" information.

Mr Johnson has denied any wrongdoing.

Lawyers lodged an application at Westminster Magistrates' Court to summons Mr Johnson as part of a private prosecution.

In a judgement given today, District Judge Margot Coleman ruled: "The allegations which have been made are unproven accusations and I do not make any findings of fact.

"Having considered all the relevant factors I am satisfied that this is a proper case to issue the summons as requested for the three offRead More – Source

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