Thursday 22 August 2019

Stop 'politically motivated' case against Johnson, prosecutors urged

Boris Johnson is a key contender in the race to succeed Theresa May as Tory party leader. Photo: Reuters/Hannah Mckay
Boris Johnson is a key contender in the race to succeed Theresa May as Tory party leader. Photo: Reuters/Hannah Mckay

Gordon Rayner

Britain's top prosecutor has been urged to stop the courts being "abused" in a plot to stop Brexit after Boris Johnson was told he could face trial over his part in the Leave campaign.

The Tory leadership contender was yesterday summonsed to appear before a judge to answer three charges of misconduct in a public office following an allegation that he lied about how much Britain gives to the EU.

Marcus Ball, a Remain campaigner, took out a private prosecution claiming Mr Johnson was wrong to say that Britain gives £350m (€397m) a week to Brussels.

Yesterday, District Judge Margot Coleman decided he had a case to answer, meaning the former foreign secretary could face a criminal trial over charges that carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Mr Johnson's legal team described the prosecution as "politically motivated". Supporters - and even some of his rivals - feared the case would make a mockery of the judicial system.

It is thought to be the first time a criminal court has intervened to settle a political dispute, and a source close to Mr Johnson said: "This is nothing less than a politically motivated attempt to reverse Brexit and crush the will of the people. The claimant has openly admitted that his plan is to overturn the referendum via a legal challenge and he clearly intends to try and undermine the one man who can truly deliver Brexit."

It means Mr Johnson's appearance in court, before magistrates, could take place during the leadership contest which is due to start on June 10. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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